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W. F. /ri ARKS, 

^ p, 3 -=i.=— ^^ _ 


New York State Colleges 


Agriculture and Home Economics 


Cornell University 



The Honey-Makers 

Bg Mm Maxki^. 

A Song of Life. i2mo. $1.25. 

Life and Love. i2mo. $1.25. 

The Bee People. i2mo. $1.25. 

The Honey-Makers. i2mo. I1.50. 





Margaret Warner Morley 

Author of "A Song of Life/' "Life and Love,' 
"The Bee People" 

aftujsftrateb bp tlje autftoc 


A. C. McClurg and Company 


G s'? 


By a. C. McClurg and Co. 

A.D. l8qq 


Part I 


Chapter Page 

I. Structure, Habits, and Products of the 

Honey-Bee 9 

II. The Bee's Tongue 17 

III. Eyes, Antenna, and Brain 39 

IV. The Wings 


V. The Legs . 70 

VI. Honey-Sac and Wax-Pockets 81 

VII. The Sting 90 

VIII. The Family 113 

IX. The Drone 129 

X. The Worker ~. 137 

XI. The Swarm 159 

XII. Honey 177 

XIII. Mead 206 

Part II 

XIV. In Hindu Literature 225 

XV. In Egypt and the East 247 

viii Contents 

Chapter Page 

XVI. In Greece and Italy 264- 

XVII. In Greece and Italy {conti7iued) ...... 288 

XVIII. In Christian and Mediaeval Times .... 319 

XIX. Curious Customs and Beliefs in Modern 

Times 339 

XX. Bee Culture at Present 362 

Appendix 391 

Index 411 

Part I 

The Honey-Makers 


Literature is filled with the Honey- makers and their in- 
comparable gift, which appears now as ambrosia, now as 
nectar, and always as the synonym of sweetness unsur- 

The Vedic poets sang of honey and the dawn at the 
same moment, and all the succeeding generations of India 
hav^e chanted honey and its maker into their mythologies, 
their religions, and their loves. 

The philosophers of Greece esteemed the bee, and with- 
out honey and the bee the poets of Hellas would have 
lacked expressions of sweetness that all succeeding ages 
have seized upon as consummate. 

The Latin writers studied the bee not only for its use- 
fulness as a honey-maker, but because of its unique character 
for industry, for its skill as a builder, and for its wonderful 
sagacity in its social organization. 

The writers of the middle ages were not only familiar 
with what had been said in the classics, but themselves 
knew the bee, its virtues, and its uses in hterature. 

Modern writers are principally concerned with the struc- 
ture and habits of the bee as revealed by modern science. 

lo The Honey-Makers 

and particularly with the part played by it as a fertilizer of 
the fruits and flowers. 

To fertilize the flowers has always been the office of the 
bee, as we can see now that the processes of nature are 
understood. But it cannot so easily be believed that the 
bee once gave the world the only " sugar " it had, — that 
is, the only material for sweetening; yet it is but a few 
centuries since sugar came into use in Europe. 

The first cane-sugar known in our records came from 
China, that wonderful secret country which has given us 
so many of our useful arts. 

Its course was thence to India and Arabia, and between 
China and these countries it appears to have been for 
centuries an article of trade. 

Alexander the Great, in that remarkable expedition 
which did so much to make the West acquainted with 
the East, is probably responsible for the first knowledge 
Europe had of sugar, for it is said that his admiral, Near- 
chus, on the return of his army to Greece B. c. 324, brought 
with him as a rare and delectable delicacy a quantity of 
sugar candy. 

The method of making " candy " appears to have been 
known and extensively practised in China from a very 
remote antiquity, and it was sent in large quantities to 

Thus we find candy, so frequently condemned as vain 
and frivolous, a most venerable and historical commodity, 
the forerunner of the tremendous sugar industry in the 
western world at the present time. 

Nearchus's candy was not the varied and delectable 
confection compounded by the artists of the present day, 
but probably a very simple sweet. 

Theophrastus, 320 b. c, calls sugar a sort of honey ex- 
tracted from canes or reeds ; and Dioscorides in the second 

Structure, Habits, and Products 1 1 

century informs us that a sort of concrete honey, called 
sugar, is found upon canes which grow in India and 
Arabia Felix. 

This sugar, we are told, was in consistence like salt, being, 
like it, brittle between the teeth. 

" Sugar " came to be a synonym for everything that had 
a sweet taste, hence the acetate of lead is called " sugar of 

It was not until about the seventeenth century that sugar 
became an article of common use in Europe. Up to that 
time it was used chiefly as a medicine, or by the rich as a 
delicacy at feasts upon very special occasions. 

At the present time sugar has superseded honey as an 
article of every-day use. Honey has lost most of its im- 
portance in the family life ; but not so the bee, for we now 
know that it does inestimable service in perfecting the 
fruits of the earth, and that without it our orchards would 
be lean and our gardens barren. 

This knowledge makes a scientific study of the bee as 
fascinating as is the story of honey and its maker in rela- 
tion to the individual life of the races of men that have 
preceded us. 

Since the bee existed before literature and history, the 
true sequence in treating it is, first, its structure and habits, 
and then its place in song and homily. 

Its structure and habits were partly known and pardy 
guessed by the ancients, who from Hesiod down wrote 
about it. Aristotle gives the best summary of Greek knowl- 
edge upon the subject, and from him succeeding authors 
down to near the present time drew their materials, ampli- 
fying the fables and absurdities, until the earliest English 
books upon the bee, although written in perfect seriousness, 
in the light of what we know to-day, read like humorous 

12 The Honey-Makers 

The bee lends itself so readily to fun that at the present 
time it is treated as a joke almost as frequently as a sober 
subject for scientific research. In the present book the 
natural history of the bee is treated and the latest scientific 
results on the subject are given, yet, feeling that the general 
reader will enjoy the quaint and curious opinions of earlier 
generations, even as the present writer did, they too are set 
before him, not to discredit the gravity of so serious a 
subject, but rather as it were to warm the cold facts of 
science with a human glow and make them smile a little. 
Hence Aristotle and Pliny, Moffett and Butler, appear with 
their testimony concerning the structure of wings, tongue, 
or sting, alongside the modern scientists, instead of being 
kept strictly to their own side of the fence in the part 
entitled the Literature and History of the Bee. 

In the second part of the book the bee is set up to be 
looked at in the light of mythology, the legend, poetry, 
history, and literature ; and an astonishing insect it has 
proved to be under this examination. The writers of In- 
dian literature have used it constantly, as have also the 
Greek and Latin writers from the earliest times to the later 
ones. Plato in philosophy and Plutarch in history have 
set it in their pages. 

In mediaeval times the church drew some of its most 
useful illustrations and lessons from the habits of the bee, 
and everywhere its wax has been used in magic and necro- 
mancy as well as in religious observances. 

The northern nations owe it a debt so great that we can 
scarcely see how they could have fought and sung without 
it ; certainly they could not have mingled the draught that 
created the saga or brewed the mead that pledged the hero, 
without the cloying honey. 

The poetry of the present is so rich in its use of the bee 
that it has been necessary to pass it almost without pausing, 

Structure, Habits, and Products i 3 

so impossible is it to do justice to this subject in a book of 
reasonable length. 

It has not been the object of the author to exhaust the 
subject of the bee in literature, — that would be a task, 
indeed, — but rather to show the important place it holds 
in the principal literatures of the world, and to share with 
others the pleasure derived from pursuing the bee through 
these extensive and very delightful pastures. 

It may not be out of place to say a word here concerning 
the bee's place in nature. It belongs to the branch of the 
animal kingdom known as Arthropoda, which contains 
more species than all the other branches taken together, and 
whose members are characterized by having the body 
composed of a series of more or less similar rings or 
segments joined together, some of the segments bearing 
jointed legs. To the Arthropoda belong the spiders, 
scorpions, centipedes, lobsters, and insects. 

The insects again form the largest division of this branch, 
and they are distinguished as being air-breathing, with 
distinct head, thorax, and abdomen, possessing one pair of 
antenna, three pairs of legs, and usually one or two pairs of 
wings in the adult state. 

The insects form about four-fifths of the whole animal 
kingdom, and about a quarter of a million species have been 
described and named ! And this enormous number is 
only a fraction, some say not more than one-tenth, of those 
actually existing. 

Insects, according to certain peculiarities in structure, 
have been divided into several Orders, one of which 
contains butterflies, another beetles, another flies, etc. ; the 
Order to which the bees belong being the Hymenoptera, or 
membrane-winged insects, though they do not alone de- 
serve the name, as members of other orders have also 
membranous wings. 

14 The Honey-Makers 

The Hyrnenoptera form a large Order, tens of thousands 
of species having been described and named, and these are 
a comparatively small part of those still unknown. 

The members of the Hyrnenoptera are characterized by 
having four membranous wings, furnished with comparatively 
few or no transverse veins. The hind wings are smaller 
than the fore wings. The mouth parts are formed for 
biting and sucking. The abdomen in the females is usually 
furnished with a sting, piercer, or saw. The metamorphosis 
is complete. 

The Hyrnenoptera may be divided into two parts, — those 
with instruments for boring, and those with stings. 

The saw-flies, gall-flies, and a host of insects that lay their 
eggs in the bodies or eggs of other insects belong to the 
boring Hymenoptera, while to those bearing stings, known as 
the Aculeata, belong our well-known bees, ants, and wasps. 

These do not employ their piercing instruments for 
boring, but for quite another purpose. They are stinging 
insects, having a poison-bag connected with the sting. The 
poison was probably used originally in obtaining food for 
the young, as it still is among the wasps. Wasps do not 
kill the insects they sting, but paralyze them and keep them 
alive and fresh as food for their larvse. This was probably 
the office of the bee's sting originally ; but if this was so, 
time has so modified the insect that the sting is now no 
longer used to provision the nest, but has been turned to 
account in defending it. 

Some bees have no stings at all, but such as have use 
them in defence only. 

The family of bees is a large one, and is naturally divided 
into two parts, — the short-tongued bees and .the long- 
tongued ones, or the Apidae. Among the Apidse, or honey- 
gathering bees, there are a number of genera, chief among 
which is the genus Apis, to which our honey-bee belongs. 

Structure, Habits, and Products 1 5 

So we see the honey-bees of this country have a great 
many near relatives ; indeed, counting the short-tongued 
bees that do not lay up honey but feed their young on 
balls of pollen or pollen and honey mixed together, there 
are thousands of species. 

Even among the honey-making bees there are several 
genera and many species scattered over the world. The 
bumble-bee alone, which has a long tongue, though it 
does not always store up honey, has over fifty species 
in this country. 

But our chief concern is with those bees that have been 
induced to lay up stores of honey in hives by which man 
has profited, and which in all but tropical countries belong 
to the genus Apis, of which again there is a number of 

The Hymenoptera as an Order stand high in the scale of 
life, and of them the bees take first rank, — the hive-bee 
being by some placed next to man in point of intelligence. 
Certainly they stand at the very top of the insect scale. 

The innumerable " bees " flying about the flowers in 
summer are not all hive-bees. Many of them are the 
wild short-tongued bees searching for pollen, and these 
are soon recognized by their small size and slender forms. 

The bumble-bees, on the other hand, which belong to the 
genus Bombus, are larger than the hive-bees, though some 
of the smaller workers occasionally approximate the hive- 
bee in size, but bees of this genus can always be recog- 
nized by their black and yellow hairy coats. Bumble-bees 
are covered with hairs that form a thick short fur of alter- 
nating black and yellow stripes or areas over their whole 
bodies excepting sometimes a round bald spot on top of 
the thorax. Hive-bees have few or no hairs on the upper 
rings of the abdomen, and present a very different appear- 
ance from their furry relatives. 


The Honey-Makers 

Many people do not know the hive-bees from the small 
worker bumble-bees ; but the furry coat of the latter will 
always identify them. 

With this slight introduction we will proceed to a more 
careful consideration of the organs and activities of our 



Both ends of the honey-bee have always been of singular 
interest to us, and this for exactly opposite reasons. It is 
the " tongue " that supplies the combs with honey, and 
the sting that never fails to admonish us when we become 
obtrusive in the affairs of the hive. 

Pater Abraham a Santa Clara feelingly describes the bee 
as " honey before, a lance behind," and this has been ex- 
pressed in later times by one who epigrammatically de- 
nominates the bee " a double-ender ; one end the friend, 
the other end the enemy, of man." 

To the humorist the sting is the chief end of the bee. 
So it is to the popular apprehension. It is the first thing 
a boy learns about a bee, and the only one he cares for, 
unless it comes to be a question of mingled fear and hope 
in robbing the store of the worker. 

But we must not accept the opinion of either the humor- 
ist or the boy, for the tongue is mightier than the sting, just 
as in modern life the pen is mightier than the sword. 

" Through the soft air the busy nations fly, 
Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube 
Suck its pure essence, its ethereal soul," 

sings Thomson in his "Spring," recognizing that mysteri- 
ous organ, the bee's tongue, which next to the sting has 
from all time engaged man's interest. 

A bee's tongue is very wonderful, and is not at all what 
it appears to be. 

I 8 The Honey-Makers 

Offer a captive bee a fresh white clover-head, and of a 
sudden, apparently from nowhere, there appears a long 
brown tongue that at once finds its way into the clover 
nectaries, appearing and disappearing in the most aston- 
ishing manner as the bee crawls over the head of flowers. 

One watching this rapid tongue and trying to make out 
whence it comes and whither it goes is reminded of the 
peaman's game of " Now you see it, and now you don't." 

The truth is, it is not easily observable excepting when 
in use. At other times, it is kept discreetly folded back 
beneath the head, where it fits into the space between the 
head and thorax, and offers a satisfactory explanation for 
the peculiar manner in which these 
\ if^ ^^ ^^^° divisions of the body are at- 
tached to each other. The head is 
fastened near its upper edge to the thorax by its slender 
"neck," and were it otherwise, vv^ere the attachment more 
generous in size or lower down, when the bee folded back 
the sharp-pointed " tongue " it would be in danger of cut- 
ting its own throat, which would be inconvenient, to say the 
least ! 

When a bee is about to produce its tongue it first opens 
its jaws, which are where one would expect to find jaws, at 
the lower margin of the face. 

When the bee is at rest, one looking 
it full in the face would get no hint of 
a tongue, seeing only these tightly closed 
jaws {J, J) and above them the upper 
lip {L), the lower edge of which is bor- 
dered with a row of short, stiff hairs, 
which are sensitive and act as feelers. 

Disturb the bee a little and open fly 
the jaws, not to accommodate the tongue this time, but 
evidently to strike terror to the heart of the intruder. 

The Bee's Tongue 19 

Bumble-bees are more apt to threaten with their jaws, 
which are large and powerful, than are honey-bees, the 
latter being quicker to sting. No doubt a bumble-bee 
can bestow a very creditable nip with 
these horny organs, as it will often 
demonstrate by biting viciously at a 
pencil-point when disturbed by it. It 
evidently knows there is no use in 
wasting good sting power on a pencil- 
point, so it expresses its feelings with 
its jaws. 

Any bees caught in a net will bite at the meshes, and 
this is a very good way to watch the play of tlie jaws, 
which, as in other insects, work sideways instead of up 
and down, like those of the higher animals. 

The jaws of the bee are somewhat sickle-shaped, are 
more or less toothed according to the species of bee, are 
hard and horny in substance, are fastened at either side of 
the face by a hinge-joint, and meet or overlap in front 
when not in use. 

In this chapter, for the sake of clearness, the complex 
organ commonly known as the tongue will be called the 

One approaches it with a fear which even the sting does 
not inspire, for probably few other organs of its size, in all 
the world and in all time, have been 
so much written about and so good- 
naturedly quarrelled over as has this 
same little bee's proboscis. 

We will consider, at present, only 
the proboscis of the worker honey-bee. 

When one first looks for it in a resting bee, it is found 
folded back under the head and out of the way. 
When needed, it is let down by a sort of hinge-joint, 


The Honey-Makers 

and brought forward between the jaws, which, as we have 
seen, open for that purpose. It now has the appearance 
of a short, stout, sharp-pointed dagger (S) 
with two little feelers (X, X) at the tip. 

Instantly there appears, reaching below 
the point of this dagger, a very active, 
tiny, thread-like tongue (T) wriggling 
about in the honey or nectar and licking 
it up very much as a dog's tongue licks 
out a dish. 

The best way to watch the action of 
the proboscis is to place a hungry bee 
near a drop of honey. As long as the 
honey is abundant and 
easily reached, the pro- 
boscis will probably re- 
main as described ; but if the bee wishes 
to reach a more distant point, the pro- 
boscis is suddenly lengthened, an inner 
portion {S, S) is shot out, reminding 
one of the manner of lengthening of 
a telescope. This inner part is seen to 
bear the feelers {X, X), as they are car- 
ried with it. 

The tongue itself is thrust further out 
of its hiding-place. 

In short, with great rapidity the pro- 
boscis can be extended until the tongue 
is able to reach more than half the length 
of the bee's body. 

As this interesting exhibition is watched, one discovers 
that the proboscis is not a closed tube or tubes, but is 
composed of parts which separate more or less as the bee 
imbibes the honey. 

The Bee's Tongue 


In fact, the bee's proboscis is not a tube 
at all, though it can perform the office of 
one at need. A closed tube would be an 
inadequate and clumsy possession to a 
bee, as it could not lick up nectar so 
quickly and could not free its proboscis 
without great loss of time in case that in- 
strument became clogged. 

Any one who has watched a bumble-bee 
disengage a bit of honey-comb or other 
foreign substance that had become wedged 
in its proboscis will appreciate the advan- 
tages of an organ that can, so to speak, be 
taken quickly apart and cleared out. 

The proboscis lies behind the upper lip 
and is formed of the tongue, the lower 
lip, and two side pieces called maxillae. 
These organs are common to all insects, 
but in the bees are modified to form a 
long nectar-gathering instrument. 

The two maxilla {M, M) together form the sharp-pointed 
dagger-like organ which the bee first 
lets down. They are horny in sub- 
stance and are two-jointed. They 
can readily be separated from each 
other as shown in the illustration, 
though normally they he side by side, 
the thin inner edges of their lower 
joints (2,2) overlapping above the 
tongue and forming the top of the 

They are hollowed within, thus 
forming an arched roof to the pro- 
boscis, but as they do not meet un- 
derneath, they fail to form a perfect tube. 

2 2 The Honey-Makers 

Beneath the maxillae lies the lower hp. This is composed 
in part of two four-jointed organs, the labial palpi {LP). 
Like the maxillse the palpi have two large horny joints (i, 2), 
but they also have two short joints (3, 4), which possess 
sensitive hairs, and, in short, are " feelers." 

The two palpi he side by side, their inner edges overlap- 
ping underneath the tongue, so that, like the maxilte, they 
form a partial tube. 

Thus, where the proboscis is let down but not lengthened 
it is a short tube, closed above by the maxilte, below by 

the palpi. When by a remarkable contrivance the labial 
palpi are extended beyond the maxillce, the proboscis is 
lengthened but is no longer a complete tube, since, de- 
prived of the roof formed by the maxillae, it is open above. 

The Bee's Tongue 23 

This, however, does not interfere with the collecting of 
nectar, as the tongue, or ligula {T), is covered with rows 
of hairs which make it easy for the liquid sweets to be 
conveyed up to the complete tube above. 

In order to examine the wonderful mechanism by which 
the proboscis is lengthened and shortened at will, we will 
now look at the under side of the proboscis with all the 
parts widely separated. 

We have here the maxillcC (y^/, J/), or outer sheath, as 
before, with both joints (i, 2) plainly distinguishable. 

Between them we have the lower lip (Z) with the upper 
cylindrical part or mentum {Mt) and below that the two 
labial palpi (LP, LP), these palpi forming the inner sheath. 

Between the palpi is the tongue {T) having its roots in 
the mentum and capable of being withdrawn partly into 
that portion, by the action of muscles joining tongue and 

The maxillae are attached to a plate under the bee's 
head at the points Z, Z, of Figs. II. and III. 

In Fig. I. these points are below and behind X, X, and 
are concealed by the overlying parts. 

The proboscis in Fig. I. is not lowered, but is as short as 
it can be. 

In Fig. II. the bee has lowered its proboscis by opening 
the hinges at Z, Z, which thus lowers the point A of Fig. I. 
to A^ of Fig. II., leaving the points of attachment, Z, Z, 
exposed to view. 

In this way the wko/e proboscis has been lowered, the 
inner and outer sheaths retaining their original relative 
position to each other. 

Now the bee desires to extend its tongue still farther, 
and to this end lowers the proboscis yet more, in order to 
do this making use of other hinges similar to those already 
used at Z, Z. 

24 The Honey-Makers 

These hinges are at X, X, the point A ^ of Fig. II. being 
joined to X, X, by the stiff, horny arms A^, X, on either side. 
Certain muscles which are attached to the head as well 
as to the proboscis by contraction depress the arms, as 
seen at ^ ^, X, in Fig. III., and lower the point ^ ^ to ^ ^, 
opening the hinges at X, X, and thus lowering the inner 
sheath. This now projects below the outer, and the pro- 
boscis has been extended to its maximum length below the 
jaws. The final act is to lengthen the tongue to its utmost 
by withdrawing it as far as possible from the mentum Mf. 

Thus, by means of springs or hinges or levers, as one 
may choose to think of them, the proboscis can be quickly 
lengthened and shortened. 

A profile view of the tongue and its motor mechanism is 
interesting and makes the manner of lengthening the organ 

The proboscis is slightly lowered, otherwise A would be 
applied closely to the line of the head, the whole apparatus 
would be tightly closed, and its mechanism 

Corresponding to the arm ZA on either 
side is a lower parallel arm VK, which is 
visible only in the profile. This arm, like that 
at ZA, is tough and horny, though very slen- 
der, and it is evident that the parallelogram 
ZAKV, being jointed at each angle, can, by 
swinging on these joints, depress or elevate 
the side AK and with it the attached inner 
sheath and tongue. 
But this parallelogram is divided in two at points X, S, 
and is also movable at these points, and the parallelogram 
ZXS V can change its relative position without changing 
that of the parallelogram XAKS as seen in Fig. V. 

Thus, the whole proboscis is lowered the distance from 

The Bee's Tongue 25 

Xto X'^, the outer and inner sheaths retaining their relative 
positions to each other. 

But the parallelogram X^AKS is capable of a similar 
change of relative position, as Fig. VI. shows, thus lowering 
the inner sheath and with it the tongue below 
the point of the outer sheath^ and extending 
the proboscis to its greatest length beyond the 

This really simple and very effective ap- 
paratus is worked by an arrangement of mus- 
cles reaching from it to the head, and as 
simple and ingenious as the framework itself, 
when the work they accomplish is considered. 
When not in use the proboscis is doubled 
back at the joints marked on Figs. I., 11. , 
and III., and at 0,0, on IV., V., VI., and VII. 
The tongue of the bee is a hairy organ, a 

fortunate circumstance when the very imper- 
fect tube of its proboscis is considered. The 
hairs are arranged in rings around the tongue, 
the longest ones being towards j 

the centre, and no doubt act as 
efficient aids in lifting the nectar 
through the proboscis to the 
mouth when there is an abund- 
ance of nectar within easy reach. 
The tongue in such cases licks 
up the nectar, and one can readily watch a 
bee gorge itself on a drop of honey, the 
parts of the proboscis quite widely separated, 
the active tongue licking in and out, and a band of honey, 
so to speak, extending from the drop almost to the mouth 
opening. The greedy little creature is fairly shovelling in 
the unaccustomed abundance. 

26 The Honey-Makers 

An exposed drop of honey, however, is an unusual piece 
of good fortune for the bee ; generally, it has to insert the 
proboscis into tubular flowers, where the nectar can- 
not be Hcked out in this easy way, and if the bee 
were unable to profit by the more inaccessible nectar 
of the flowers, starvation would stare it in the face. 
But the bee has a tongue of resources. When nectar 
is abundant it can gather it speedily and carelessly, 
but when distant or scarce sweets are to be reached, 
it is also equal to the occasion. 

There is a groove running lengthwise at the back 
of the tongue, which is somewhat complicated in 
structure and which is closed into a tube by means 
of hairs which are so placed that they cross each other, 
forming a covering to the groove, but which can easily be 
moved aside when it is desirable to open or clear the tube. 
The end of the tongue is a cylindrical disk covered with 
delicate hairs, which aids in licking and also in starting the 
nectar into the central groove. 

This groove or tube is no doubt used to convey small 
quantities of nectar to the mouth, so by means of its com- 
pHcated tongue the bee can gather nectar of any amount or 
any degree of accessibility. 

The root of the tongue, as we know, is in the 
mentum, and when not extended for use it is 
withdrawn into the mentum in a manner which 
the accompanying illustration makes clear. 

It is very easy to see the manner in which 
the nectar starts on its upward course, but con- 
cerning its final method of entering the bee's body 
there is still room for a difference of opinion, — 
one maintaining that the upper part of the pro- 
boscis enlarges and contracts successively, thus pumping 
the nectar into the mouth ; another, that the honey stomach, 

The Bee's Tongue 27 

or sac in the abdomen that receives the nectar, is a ''sucking 
stomach " and thus draws the nectar through the tubes. 
However this may be, we know for a certainty that the 
honey does reach the honey-sac. 

In the act of taking honey, the mouth-opening at the 
upper front part of the proboscis is firmly closed by a flap 
or Hp of delicate membrane that appears below the edge of 
the upper lip when needed. 

The bee is very quick to discover honey and when con- 
fined in a room will soon find its way to the honey provided 
for it. Where there are flowers it will soon discover them 
and proceed to rifle them of their nectar. 

It is amusing to watch a bee on a cluster of flowers new 
to it. Its " unerring instinct " does not lead it at once to 
the best manner of securing the nectar; like the rest of us, 
it has to live and learn by experiment and gain knowledge 
through failure. 

There is one flower concerning which a honey-bee never 
seems ignorant, however. 

Present the captive with white clover-heads, and it 
instantly goes to work, putting the proboscis, or tongue, as 
we shall now call it, since we are done with scientific terms 
for the present, into flower after flower, always in the right 

But with other flowers it is less certain. 

Having been given a bunch of flat-topped flowers, whose 
nectary was in the form of a cushion-like disk easily 
reached, a honey-bee not long since made a most amusing 
"and for a time unsuccessful effort to stay her hunger from 
this fragrant and all too evident nectar. Like certain un- 
fortunate sentimentahsts of the human race, she was trying 
to get the thing right before her face by aiming at the moon. 

She was a thoroughbred bee, no doubt, accustomed to 
maintain her rank and find her sustenance in the aristocratic 

28 The Honey-Makers 

tubular flowers, and to be requested to take nourishment 
from a flat-topped flower with no tubes, but holding nectar 
galore free to the common herd of short-tongued bees, flies, 
and other plebeian insects, was too much for her philosophy. 

She could not credit it, and the little brown tongue was 
repeatedly thrust between the petals of this flower into the 
outer air, where it vainly waved and wriggled. 

She evidently scented the honey, was hunger-distracted, 
and made frantic efforts to get it — by licking the air ! 

She persisted in trying to find tubular nectaries in mid- 
air for so long a time that her captor seriously meditated 
coming to her assistance, when finally her wayward tongue 
in its gyrations accidentally slid over the actual nectary. 

The problem was at once solved. She licked the 
cushion-like nectary dry, went to another flower, and started 

In fact, she licked out every flower in the bunch without 
making another mistake, proving that though she acquired 
a new idea with difficulty, she kept it when she got it. 

Honey-bees presented with different forms of papiliona- 
ceous flowers always had to find out by experiment where 
to find the opening to the nectary and how to get to it. 
Though when they had finally succeeded with one flower, 
they profited by their experience and quickly and dexter- 
ously rifled all of like form within reach. 

Perhaps the most amusing of all were the bumble-bees 
trying to extract honey from the Iris. 

This flower is so formed that the bee cannot get the 
nectar without creeping under the petal-like style {X), that 
hes curved against the true petal ( Y) and acts as a spring 
when an insect pushes under it. Beneath this spring at A 
lies the anther ; and the flower's intention evidently is to 
make the bee pay for its feast of nectar by dusting its back 
with pollen as it crowds under the style, and carrying the 

The Bee's Tongue 29 

pollen to another plant. When the bee approaches the 
nectary of an iris flower its hairy back first comes in 
contact with the stigraatic surface 
{S) at the outer rim of the style ; 
and if it has recently come from 
another iris, it will be pollen-dusted 
and will leave some of the pollen on 
the stigma. As it passes under the 
style its back will gather a fresh sup- 
ply of pollen to be in like manner 
conveyed to another plant. 

The captive bumble-bee, suddenly 
presented with a generous supply of 
iris flowers, evidently had had no 
experience with them, or if so, it had 
forgotten. It had been fasting for 
some time and speedily made its 
way to the new offering. It landed 
on a hanging petal — as it ought; 
but instead of creeping under the 
style as it ought and thrusting its 
tongue into the longed-for nectar 
while it incidentally dusted its back 
for the benefit of the House of Iris, 
it clumsily climbed over the top of 
the style and began to lick the cen- 
tre of the flower, evidently with little satisfaction, for it 
moved constantly about as though searching for something. 

Finally, it discovered the location of the nectar, though 
not the entrance to it, and made repeated attempts to 
reach it /rom alcove, chnging to the petal and putting in 
its tongue along the side of the style. 

Its tongue was stretched to its limit, the bee stood on its 
tiptoes, so to speak, and the symjoathetic observer could 

30 The Honey-Makers 

feel if not see the anxiety depicted on its countenance. 
But all was of no avail. It could not get the nectar that 
way ; it must conform to the law 
of the flower, or go hungry. 

It tried again and again walking 
over and about the right opening : 
but the flower, strong and stiff, 
met its stupidity by an equal 
obstinacy, until finally Madame 
Bombus solved the vexing rid- 
dle, forced her corpulent person 
beneath the stigmatic spring, 
stretched her neck and extracted 
nectar to her heart's content. 
Emerging from the entrance to 
the emptied nectary, she unhesitatingly, and no doubt with 
a beam of triumph in her eye, forged across the flower 
and into another nectary entrance. From that time for- 
ward she lost no precious moments when iris blossoms were 
in question. 

This raised in the observer's mind the query as to 
whether the need of becoming acquainted with the method 
of ransacking a flower for nectar might not account for the 
well-known habit of bees in collecting exclusively from one 
variety of flower during a given time. They find a flower 
which is abundant and whose nectar pleases them, they 
know just how to proceed, so it is a time-saving method to 
hasten from one flower to another like it. 

Every observant bee-keeper has noticed the experimental 
manner in which bees search for nectar. 

Their instinct as a rule leads them to seek the flowers for 
honey, though sometimes they do not seem even to know 
flowers without first investigating their little world and dis- 
covering them. Mr. Root says he has watched bees in the 

The Bee's Tongue 


springtime, very likely young ones, examining the " leaves, 
branches, and even rough wood of the trunk of the tree," 
as if smelling out the nectar. But when the secret has 
once been discovered, all who have watched bees know 
how well it has been remembered. Bees, like all living 
creatures, control their lives through the exercise of reason. 

The bumble-bee, although belonging to another genus, 
is very similar to the honey-bee in structure, and while it 
differs in many ways in its habits, 
still its methods of gathering nec- 
tar and pollen are the same, and 
its large size and good nature 
make it a pleasant house com- 

It is longer lived when in cap- 
tivity than the honey-bee, and not 
so likely to get lost when it has the 
freedom of the room. If one for- 
gets to put it up for the night it 
crawls away into some self-chosen 
corner and emerges next day, 
making a great commotion. 

The best way to discover how bees visit flowers is to 
give the bees a short fast, then introduce the flower to be 
experimented upon, with no other flowers in the room. 

In this way the writer enjoyed a very amusing exhibition 
of the bumble-bee's performances with the moccasin flower 
or pink lady's slipper, — cypripedium acaule. 

A whole afternoon spent in the dim woods with these 
strange and lovely growths failed to throw any light upon 
their method of fertilization. 

It is reported that the smaU bumble-bees fertihze them, 
but at this season — June — there were no small, or worker, 
bombuses flying. They had not yet come out. 

32 The Honey-Makers 

It was a New England June, one to remember, when a 
cool and rainy season had made the wild growths of the 
mountains of western Connecticut even more than usually 
luxuriant and beautiful. 

Through the dim aisles of the hemlock and white birch 
trees that clothed a certain hillside the forms of the great 
pink orchids shone with almost unearthly effect. 

The single blossom stood at the end of its long stem 
rising from two large leaves that looked as though they had 
scarcely yet been fully born from the earth beneath. They 
stood singly, but in small communities, little settlements of 
them, and occasionally two would be so close together that 
they looked like one plant. 

It was no hardship to wander through these woods 
coming ever upon the magic areas where stood the orchids, 
giving one the feeling that they did not belong to this 
world, but were here for a time, brought forth by some 
powerful incantation. 

The orchids were alone. The air was still but for the 
rustling of the hemlock boughs. Hours passed, and no 
winged messengers came to them. 

By its nature the cypripedium is dependent upon winged 
insects. There is no plant more so. 

It is an extremely advanced organization, so highly 
developed that it is difficult to see how flowers could go 
much farther along the road of progress. 

There is one more step it could take, that of having 
stamens and pistil in different individuals. But it is as 
secure from self-fertilization as though this were the case. 

The petal forming its large inflated sac is free along the 
upper edges, leaving a slit the length of the sac, but this slit 
is not evident without actually drawing apart the two sides 
of the sac, so closely do the overarching lips shut together 
and conceal it. The essential organs are borne on the 

The Bee's Tongue 33 

inner surface of the trap-door A at the top of the sac. The 
back of the round anther is visible in the illustration, but 
the stigma within cannot be seen. The space X forms an 
opening into the upper part of the sac. 

One could not remain in that orchid-grown forest in- 
definitely, so there was nothing to do but to take a number 
of the mysterious and handsome blos- 
soms home. They were still wonder- 
ful in the full daylight, and yet there 
is no denying they left a part of their 
charm in the mystery of the woods. 

Their color is a beaudful pink, not 
like that of the rose and yet suggest- 
ing it. The full pink sac is adorned 
with bronze streamer-like sepals that 
heighten the color effect and increase 
the charm. There was a large queen 
bombus to welcome them to their new 
home, — a splendid creature that may 
well have held the rank in the insect 
world that they did in the world of plants. 

She flew at once to the new flowers, and although her 
observer had no thought of her entering the orchid, or if 
so, of her being able to extricate her large body through 
the proper opening, she scattered theories to the winds by 
at once introducing her head through the slit in the front 
part of the sac and licking the inside of the flower as far as 
her long and flexible tongue could reach. 

Then she forced herself in a little farther to reach yet 
unexplored sweets. Evidently orchid nectar was entirely 
to her mind, for presently she crowded still farther in, and 
in a moment more the lips of the sac closed triumphantly 
over her receding form and the first act in the romantic 
drama of the love of the orchid had been played, 


34 The Honey-Makers 

By holding the flower against the h'ght, the bee could 
easily be seen, as, all unconcerned as to how she was to 
escape, she greedily licked clean the inside of the ample sac. 

When her appetite was satisfied, or more probably the 
sweets exhausted, she wished to come forth into the wide 

Disappearance of the Queen- 

Emergence of the Queen. 

world again and tried to do so the way she went in, but 
orchid sacs that open to swallow up queen bombuses do 
not open to let them out again and her ingenuity was not 
sufficient to manage the combination that held her locked 
in prison. 

Then, no doubt, casting her eye around she discovered 
the ray of light at the top of the flower and presently her 
black head appeared in the window, as one is tempted to 
call that interesting opening from the orchid prison. 

The observer, having kindly decided not to let her die 
there, but to help her out after she had made a reasonable 
effort to extricate herself, sat and gazed at her black head 
with sympathy. 

Just then she reached out a strong fore leg and firmly 
grasped the outside of the flower with her toes. Then she 

The Bee's Tongue 35 

reached out another leg. Then she slowly and thoughtfully 
emerged, whole and unharmed, with the stamp of the orchid 
on the top of her back in the form of a large round patch 
of sticky pollen which she had dragged from the anther 
under which she had squeezed herself. 

Once out, she tried, unsuccessfully, to brush the pollen 
from her back, evidently feeling annoyed by it, and then 
buzzed her way straight to another of the orchids, insin- 
uated herself into its sac, and when she got ready pulled 
her plump person successfully through the small opening 
at the top. 

She bore the seal of the orchid all over the top and sides 
of her thorax before she was through her depredations 
on that handful of flowers, and of course in passing under 
the stigma on her way out must have left enough of her 
gathered pollen to fertilize the flowers. 

Thus was forever dissipated the fear in at least one 
mind that the queen bombus is incapable of fertilizing the 
cypripedium acaule. 

Some of the honey-bees that had the run of the window 
screen also went into the cypripedium flowers through the 
slit in the sac, but they came out at the top without touch- 
ing the pollen masses, being too small to fill the necessary 

As many of the flowers in the Connecticut woods set no 
seeds, it is probable that they are not greatly favored by 
insect visitors in this day and generation, or was this an off 
season for bumble-bees to favor cypripediums? However 
that may be, on that particular hillside, in that particular 
June, the cypripediums were slighted. 

But such is the marvellous number of seeds developed in 
any one pod that does fulfil its destiny that a few mature 
pods would be sufficient to seed down the whole country 

36 The Honey-Makers 

Although Queen Bombus was not observed to visit the 
cypripediums in the Connecticut woods, she was caught at 
it next spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where by the 
roadside was seen a splendid specimen of the cypripe- 
dium acaule, and from its narrow window a queen bombus 
triumphantly emerging. 

One hears so much of the brightness of flowers as being 
the result of insect selection, and of the bees in particular 
as finding flowers by their colors, that one at first uncon- 
sciously looks to the showy blossoms when searching for 
bees. But this seems to be a mistake. 

Early in the summer the huckleberries bloom, and over 
the rocks on the Connecticut hills may be seen clusters ot 
straggling bushes loaded with small, rather inconspicuous 
red flowers. 

These flowers are always alive with bees. 

Great queen bombuses, airy honey-bees, and slender 
black bees of solitary habits are all there busily draining 
these toothsome blooms, while the vivid houstonia, whiten- 
ing the earth like a fall of snow, seems to be quite ignored, 
and the buttercups, daisies, and many another showy bloom 
has only an occasional bee-visitor. 

A little later the wild raspberry-bushes — or brambles — 
blossom with such an excess of delightsome nectar that 
they have been able almost to dispense with petals. Their 
narrow white petals soon fall, and at the best are very 

The bees adore these modest blooms, and to come at 
them will pass the brilliant white blackberry blossoms, or 
the most gorgeous garden flowers, without a moment's hesi- 
tation. Bees could always be found on the brambles when 
they were to be seen nowhere else. 

The mountain laurel, which held high carnival over the 
pastures and through the woods of Connecticut, piling up 

The Bee's Tongue 37 

crisp masses of bloom in a marvellous manner, did not win 
the favor of the bees, fortunately for those of us who love 
honey and do not care to be poisoned. For the honey of 
the laurel is said not to be good for man. 

The honey-bees ignored it entirely, and only an occa- 
sional bumble-bee or fly was to be seen paying homage to 
its opulence — always excepting the yellow papilio butterfly 
with black bands on its wings. 

These brilliant creatures fluttered by the score about the 
laurels, helping them hold jubilee, and adding their winged 
beauty to the grace of the floral outburst. 

Perhaps in a season when otlier nectar was scarce, the 
bees would have turned to the laurel as a last resource, 
though honey-bees in captivity preferred starvation to laurel 

Bumble-bees were less fastidious, and did not disdain to 
gather honey from every one of a large bunch of laurel 
flowers placed near their window. 

Wild roses, however seductive in color and fragrance, do 
not attract bees as do many other less showy flowers ; per- 
haps the bees remember, from ancestral experience, that 
the roses have no honey, only pollen to offer their guests. 

All know how fond bees are of linden or lime tree blos- 
soms, the trees when in bloom sounding like a vast bee-hive 
from the countless honey-gatherers busy in their midst, 
though the greenish flowers are so inconspicuous that many 
a one would fail to discover that the tree was in bloom 
were it not advertised so loudly by its loving friends. 

From remotest ages the lime has been noted as a tree 
beloved by bees, and Virgil does not fail to tell us that 
the limes of his old Corycian bee-master were the first to 

A little time spent in watching the bees in summer is a 
good tonic for the mind, and also a valuable corrective. 


The Honey-Makers 

From learning of bees and flowers through much reading, 
one is apt to draw the lines too closely about the methods 
of nature. One thinks of flowers and bees as adapted by 
nature to each other, and as fitting together like the two 
parts of a machine. 

While it is true that flowers no doubt are modified to 
suit certain insects and to attract them from afar, and the 
insects are modified to gather sweets from the flowers, still 
there are very few flowers that allow of but one insect 
visitor, and very few insects that visit but one species of 
flower. And any one who has watched a bee experiment 
with a flower new to it will be filled with a saving sense of the 
volition of insects, and of the manifold possibilities of action 
in the insect world. 

There is variety enough in the life of a single bee to 
afford entertainment to the most exacting, and to show 
the futility of drawing rigid conclusions concerning the 
habits and senses of bees without an almost infinite amount 
of knowledge concerning the habits of all the bees in all 
parts of the world. 

Bees certainly possess individuality, and to foretell the 
actions of any one from what is known of the habits of 
its race would be as sensible as to predict the actions of 
your neighbor from what you believe yourself to know 
of the habits of the getius homo. 



Sometimes bees fly several miles in search of flowers. 
Upon leaving the hive, they ascend high in the air as if 
to get their bearings, then they are off, zigzagging as fast 
as they can to the objects of their desire, for they do not 
fly in a straight line but continually curve from side to 
side. There is little doubt that the eye directs these distant 
flights, and that the bee sees the shine of the flower fields 
much farther away than man could distinguish them. 

Certainly the bee is abundantly supplied with visual 
organs. On either side of the head are the two large ' 
compound eyes, each, in the worker, being composed of 
more than six thousand simple eyes or facets. 

There has been a good deal of speculation as to how 
this astonishing supply of eyes can be used without breed- 
ing confusion in the mind of their possessor. It used to 
be affirmed that each facet gave a separate image of that 
portion of the landscape directly in front of it, and that 
the union of these fragments made an unbroken whole ; 
but to-day the balance of opinion is in favor of an un- 
broken image for each separate facet, and the final recon- 
ciliation of the ensuing chaos is believed to be accomplished 
by the blending of all the images into one, as our own two 
eyes give the impression of but one image. 

Whether the bee's two compound eyes focus together, 
as do our two eyes, is another matter, and probably they 
do not, as in the honey-gatherers the eyes are well over 

40 The Honey-Makers 

on the side of the head, and probably each one gives an 
image independently of the other. In Butler's " Feminin 
Monarchi," written in 1609, and reprinted in 1634, occurs 
a description of the bee's eyes too funny to omit ; and 
modern science will look askance at it, though the ordinary 
reader, unscientific but observant, after looking a bee in 
the face, will at least sympathize with Butler's dilemma. 
For how could a man in 1634 expect to find a creature's 
eyes covering both sides of its head ? Says Buder, — 

" Her two cheeks being transparent like lanthorn, do 
serve, though immovable, instead of eyes ; through which 
the species of things visible are conveyed to the common 

When examined by the microscope, the eye of the bee is 
found to be constructed on a plan somewhat resembling 
that of our own eyes, there being lenses, rods, and nerve- 
ends. The outer lens found in each facet of the bee's eye 
is biconvex, and this is fortified by another lens just back of 
it, which is long and cone-shaped. 

The rods and nerve-endings back of these lenses are 
complex and difficult to understand, and it is enough to 
know that the facets of the compound eyes are very tele- 
scopic in action, enabling the bee by means of them to see 
far better at a distance than near at hand. 

Its chief need of eyes is to discover flowers, and conse- 
quently its compound eyes are probably httle more than 
highly trained blossom detectives. It appears to have but 
one idea when it goes abroad, and that is to find a nectar- 
fiowing flower as soon as possible. 

With its eyes to discover distant masses of color, and its 
antennse to scent the nectar as it approaches, it is very well 
qualified to accomplish its wishes. But these great com- 
pound eyes after all are not much better than a pair of 
telescopes pointing about in search of clover heads, and 

Eyes, Antennae, and Brain 41 

when it comes to a near-at-hand object, the bee, as far as 
they are concerned, is very hkely as bhnd as if it had no 
eyes. So these twelve or thirteen thousand facets have to 
be re-enforced by more eyes ; and near the top of the head, 
between the compound eyes, are three 
other visual organs arranged in a triangle, ^r^^^yil^'Wx . 

each one large as compared with a facet, j^^'Vr 'V ;7';5f 
though small as compared with the com- 
pound eyes themselves. 

These three simple eyes are overhung 
by tufts of hairs like very shaggy eye- 
brows, and when one of them is dis- 
covered with a magnifying glass, it shines out like a bright 
bird's eye, the light often focusing upon it in a way to make 
it simulate the eye of higher animals. 

These three eyes are not on the same plane, and it is 
difficult to see all of them at the same time, because of the 
hair that covers the top of the bee's head. This hair can 
easily be shaved off, however, as has been done in the 

The central eye is lower than the two others, and is 
somewhat to the front of the face ; it is directed up and 
out, so that while the two compound eyes are busy searching 
space for flowers on either side, this forward-looking eye 
perhaps prevents the eager worker from bumping its reckless 
head against obstacles close in front. 

The two other eyes are over the edge, as it were, resting 
in slanting depressions on top of the head, and being 
directed upward and to the right and left respectively. 

The structure of the simple eyes, or ocelli, is somewhat 
similar to that of the facets, but is simpler, and the lenses 
are shaped for near vision. Though in some cases they do 
not seem to perform their part with remarkable success, 
they doubtless have their value. 

42 The Honey-Makers 

A bee does little credit to these three eyes when stum- 
bling about in search of something almost within reach. If 
its hive is moved only a few feet during its absence, or if it 
misses the alighting board and drops to the ground, it often 
wastes a great deal of time bustling about in what seems a 
very aimless manner before it finds itself again. 

Between the hexagonal facets of the compound eyes, and 
slanting in the direction towards which the eye curves, so as 
not to obstruct vision, are hairs. 

Why the bee should have hairs on its eyes may not be 
apparent until one remembers the unprotected state of 
those lidless organs. And also the fact that 
the eyes are constantly in danger of becom- 
ing dusted over by various substances as the 
bee dives its head into flower-cups, explores 
the waxen cells of its hive, and flies abroad 
on windy days. 
r, . r^ , It would not do for these eyes to be in- 

Section or bee s eye. ■' 

jured or obscured in any way, and the hairs 
that cover them are protective, and from their structure 
no doubt also sensory, so they form the body-guard of 
the eyes, keeping them from all harm. 

Eyelids would be a great inconvenience to a bee ; eye-hairs 
serve every purpose and offer no inconvenience whatever. 

As to what a bee sees with its eyes, and how the objects 
familiar to us appear to the owner of these numerous 
optical organs, one is not in a position to state. 

It is well known that bees distinguish colors, and Sir 
John Lubbock goes so far as to assure us that honey-bees 
prefer blue, he having discovered this by alternately alluring 
and deceiving them with slips of colored paper upon which 
were — or were not — drops of honey. He found his bees 
investigating the blue slips before trying other colors, and 
following the blue about when it was moved from place to 

Eyes, Antennae, and Brain 43 

place, even when the honey had been transferred to some 
less attractive color. 

Bee-keepers sometimes paint their hives different colors 
to enable the occupants to find their way home in a 
crowded apiary. 

Vv'hile bees undoubtedly distinguish colors, and may have 
their preferences, it is, as we have already seen, assuming 
too much to say that color is the chief factor in attracting 

Certainly white clover heads blossoming in a meadow of 
overtopping grass are not conspicuous from their color, and 
yet here you will always find the bees. Here they will 
come from distant hives, if nearer clover pastures do not 
stay them. 

How do they know? Do they scent the clover from 
afar? or do they recognize the color environment of wliite 
clover heads, the green smooth meadows, the low-growing 
vegetation ? 

And when the fragrant load is gathered, what directs their 
homeward course? Do they recognize the particular house, 
barn, or clump of trees that overlooks their hive ? Some 
sense they have that tells them its exact location, for, mount- 
ing high in the air, they turn in the right direction and make 
a " bee-line " for home. 

Apparently their eyes deceive them at times and lead 
them to seek honey from the white expanse of glaciers and 
snow-clad mountain tops where travellers frequently speak 
of having seen them dead in large numbers. 

The bee's antennae are as necessary as its eyes in the 
search for honey, and more necessary in other walks of 

" And he shall sing how, once upon a time, the great 
chest prisoned the living goat-herd, by his lord's infatuate 
and evil will, and how the Blunt-faced-Bees, as they came 

44 The Honey-Makers 

up from the meadow to the fragrant cedar chest, fed him 
with food of tender flowers, because the Muse still dropped 
sweet nectar on his lips." 

Thus sang Lycidas concerning the shepherd Comatas, 
who in his zeal to serve the Muses sacrificed to them his 
master's goats, and was therefore put in a cedar chest and 
shut up, but, as the song relates, kept alive for the space of 
a year, and until his release, by the ministrations of the 

Wise indeed have these insects been accounted from all 
time, and wonderful is the organization which enables them 
to accomplish their manifold and clever tasks. 

Whether they fed Comatas in his cedar chest some may 
question ; but this cannot be questioned, that if they did 
feed him, they found him there not by the sense of sight 
or by means of any organ such as we possess, but because 
they were endowed with the most mysterious and remark- 
able of organs, the antennas or feelers. 

Between the eyes of the " Blunt-faced-Bees " reach out 
the feelers, and these several-jointed organs, as has been 
intimated, are matters of importance. 
With them the bee hears. With them it 
smells, and by means of them it con- 
verses. Deprived of them, it becomes a 
stricken thing, helpless, deaf, dumb, and 

Huber experimented by cutting off 
the antennae. The removal of one 
antenna produced no observable effect. Not so the re- 
moval of both, for then the bee became little more than an 
idiot or lunatic and, unable to perform the necessary duties 
of the hive, soon perished. 

The queen-bee, when deprived of her antennas entirely 
lost her maternal instinct, moved aimlessly about, avoided 

Eyes, Antennae, and Brain 45 

the bees, dropped her eggs anywhere, and did not resent 
the presence of another queen. The workers did not seem 
to recognize her ; and when finally she left the hive, they did 
not follow her, and she returned no more. Drones and 
workers behaved in a similar manner, stood idly near the 
door of tlie hive, apparently attracted by the light, and at 
length went away, doubtless soon to die. 

Without its antennae, the bee must soon starve, being 
unable to find tlie fragrant nectar that is its food, or even 
to take honey that is close at hand. Ruber's queen-bees 
after losing their antennae thrust their tongues all about the 
head of the worker that was trying to feed them without 
being able to find its open mouth. 

Watch the captive bees when honey is given them. It is 
the feelers that investigate the delicacy proffered under such 
suspicious circumstances, and it is the feelers that, moving 
this way and that, direct the more distant bees to the feast. 

It i^ the feelers that first lightly investigate the blossom 
upon which the bee is placed, and direct it to the nectary, 
or cause it to flee quickly from some distasteful bloom. 

The feelers can be moved easily in any direction, as they 
are attached to the head by a convenient ball-and-socket- 
like arrangement. Their first joint is long and acts as an 
arm to turn in every direction the remainder of the organ, 
which is composed in the case of the worker bee of eleven 
short movable joints. So the outer portion of each 
antenna is flexible, and can be curved or moved within 

The eight lower joints are covered by extremely delicate 
sensory hairs that give to the antennae their peculiar sensi- 
tiveness as organs of touch, even, it is believed, enabling 
them to serve the purpose of extra eyes in performing the 
labors of the dark hive. 

There are other coarser hairs, more abundant near the 

46 The Honey-Makers 

extremities of tlie antenna, which are supposed to be highly 
specialized feeling-organs. 

On the lower, outer part of the last six or seven joints, 
and more abundant towards the end of the antenna, are 
microscopic circular depressions which are 
believed to be organs of hearing, ear- 
openings, so to speak. 

Besides the special organs already no- 
ticed, there are what Cheshire calls the 
" smell hollows." 
These are oval in form, larger and far more numerous 
than the ear-holes, and are found between the touch hairs 
on the front of the last eight joints of the antennae. 

There is the amazing number of 2400 of these oval 
depressions on each antenna, which well accounts for 
the very acute sense of smell which bees undoubtedly 

These litde antennre are only about ^ of an inch long, 
and their lower specialized portion is only ^ of an inch 
long in the worker bee, and j^o of an inch in diameter, 
yet this lower part is possessed of thousands of highly 
specialized sense-organs. 

That bees hear has been a matter of faith from the time 
of Aristotle, and, after having been denied in very scientific 
and learned terms in recent times, is now again an accepted 
belief. They do hear. Or at least they possess a sense 
equivalent to what in us is hearing. 

They do not notice all sounds, but then, neither does 
anyone else, and Sir John Lubbock's tuning-forks, whistles, 
and violins that failed to elicit any response from his bees 
may, as Cheshire has so well pointed out, be due to the 
fact that bees are not interested in the sounds of these 
instruments. Cheshire says, — 

"Should some alien being watch humanity during a 

Eyes, Antennas, and Brain 47 

thunder-storm, he might quite similarly decide that thun- 
der was to us inaudible. Clap might follow clap without 
securing any external sign of recognition; yet let a little 
child with tiny voice but shriek for help, and all would at 
once be awakened to activity. So with the bee : sounds 
appeahng to its instincts meet with immediate response, 
while others evoke no wasted emotion." 

From another pen we read the following, — 

" Every apiarist has noticed the effect of various sounds 
made by the bees upon their comrades of the hive ; and 
how contagious is the sharp note of anger, and the pleasant 
tone of a new swarm as they commence to enter their new 

Moffett, in his " Theatre of Insects," not only allows to 
bees the faculty of hearing, but credits them as well with 
musical appreciation, — 

"Neither are they altogether impatient of musical sounds, 
as other ruder forms of creatures are, but are very much 
taken, and delighted therewith; provided it be without 
variety, simple, and unaffected." 

It may be that Sir John's efforts were beyond their 
understanding, and that what he mistook for indifference 
was, in reality, a condition of stupefied surprise induced by 
his too complex tuning-fork and violin vibrations. 

But Moffett continues, — 

" They are likewise very fearful of an echo, thunder 
and lightning, and the like sudden crackling noise ; as 
on the contrary with a soft still whisthng, or murmuring 
noise, and tinkling of brass they are exceedingly taken and 

Nay, he proceeds farther, and would have us believe 
the bees possessed of a sensitive organization that not 
only hears but responds actively to music, as witness the 
following, — ■ 

48 The Honey-Makers 

''And although they cannot dance by measure or 
according to the just number of paces, as the elephant 
is said to do, yet according as he that tinks on the 
brazen kettle pleaseth, so they slack or quicken their 
flying; if he beat fast and shrill, then they mend their 
motion, if dully and slowly, then they abate it." 

One would much hke to see these bees of olden time 
dancing to the piping — or rather "linking " — of their 

The words of their seventeenth-century historian may 
not prove to the satisfaction of the exacting modern 
scientists that bees possess the sense of hearing, but 
they certainly do prove that the people of olden time 
believed they did. 

Butler has surpassed every one in his faith in the musi- 
cal power of bees. He has actually written a musical 
score which he calls the Melissomeios^ or " Bee's Madrigal," 
the swarming song which the bees sing just before leaving 
the hive. It is well known that the queen utters a peculiar 
note at that time, and that the sound of the swarm prepar- 
ing to issue is characteristic ; and Butler discovered, to his 
own satisfaction at least, that the queen and the departing 
" prince " sing to each other a well-defined song, of which 
the queen takes the bass, the young " prince " the treble. 
After explaining the different notes and chords used by 
bees, he adds, — 

" So that if music were lost, it might be found with the 
muses' birds." 

The antennae are not only ears, but are nostrils to their 
possessors, a fact proved for the first time, as far as we 
know, by Huber. 

" Not only do bees have a very acute sense of smell,'" 
says he, " but they add to this faculty the remembrance of 
sensations. Here is an example : We had placed some 

Eyes, Antennse, and Brain 49 

honey on a window. Bees soon crowded upon it. Then 
the honey was taken away and the outside shutters were 
closed and remained so the whole winter. When, in spring, 
the shutters were opened again, the bees came back, 
although there was no honey on the window. No doubt, 
they remembered that they got honey there before. So an 
interval of several months was not sufficient to efface the 
impression they received." 

Bees have often smelled their way down stove-pipes and 
through key-holes to a coveted feast of honey, and Lang- 
stroth's bees got into his honey-house by coming down 
the chimney and through an opening made by the motion 
of a loose fire-place screen. 

It seems that this screen moved back and forth in 
windy weather just enough to allow one bee to pass at a 
time. Down the chimney came the bees and waited their 
turn for a chance to crawl through when the opening 
appeared. When one succeeded she is said to have ex- 
pressed her delight by a joyful humming that led to her 
discovery. Having appropriated a load of honey the htde 
trespasser waited until the honey-house door was opened, 
and then flew home. 

There is another interesting story, told by Mr. Root, of 
bees visiting a honey-house and imparting to their hive- 
mates the joyful tidings that the door was open. 

The bees, discovered in the midst of their eager labor, 
were expelled, and towards night all was again in order in 
the apiary with not a bee near the honey-house door. 
Then the bee-keeper, desiring to try a new " feeder,'* 
placed it in front of one of the hives where the bees were 
clustered on the outside. It was soon discovered by some 
of them that filled their honey-sacs from it and went joy- 
fully into the hive to unload. Those inside took the hint 
and at once out poured the inhabitants of that hive, bent 


50 The Honey-Makers 

on sharing the booty. But not to the feeder did they 
betake themselves. They rushed past that without notic- 
ing it, and went straight to the honey-house door ! Of 
course they thought it had been left open again, and 
when they found it closed, they returned to the hive. 

Fond as bees are of nectar they are yet fonder of honey, 
and will leave the fields at any time to collect a load of 
ready-prepared sweets. Thus bee-keepers often have trouble 
in handling the honey in their apiaries, for when the bees 
get scent of the alluring harvest they fall upon it and perform 
prodigious feats in conveying it quickly back to the hives. 
Indeed, under the intoxicating influence of ready-made 
honey they often become demoralized, and hke a miser at 
the sight of gold, dream only of acquiring the largest pos- 
sible amount. Thus swarms sometimes fight over the 
honey, and finally the strong ones break into the hives of 
the weak ones and rob their own neighbors. 

Bee-keepers understand that when honey is to be handled 
it must be taken into a room and the door closed, or else 
there is danger that the whole apiary may be seized with a 
frenzy for robbing, and a general scrimmage ensue. 

When this happens the by-stander will do well to keep 
out of the way, for when the fight is on every living thing 
is regarded as a foe. 

Perhaps the most convincing proof that bees find honey 
by the aid of scent alone is afforded by Ruber's experi- 
ment of placing honey in closed boxes with an opening 
covered by a hanging valve which the bees had to push 
aside in order to enter. This they did, entering the dark 
box, securing a load of honey, and finding their way out 

All this is in great contrast to the results achieved by Sir 
John Lubbock, when experimenting to find whether bees 
returned to honey, and whether they brought or sent their 

Eyes, Antennas, and Brain 51 

companions. He first, as he writes, " placed some honey 
in a glass, close to an open window in my sitting-room, and 
watched it for sixty hours of sunshine, during which no 
bees came to it. 

" I then, at 10 a.m. on a beautiful morning in June, went 
to my hives, and took a bee which was just starting out, 
brought it in my hand up to my room (distance of some- 
what less than 200 yards), and gave it some honey, which 
it sucked with evident enjoyment. After a few minutes it 
flew quietly away, but did not return ; nor did any other 
bee make its appearance." 

The following morning the same experiment was repeated 
with the same result, and on several other occasions. On 
the whole Sir John Lubbock's bees seem to have been par- 
ticularly stupid, and after citing a number of experiments 
he concludes, — 

" I might give other similar cases, but these are, I think, 
sufficient to show that bees do not bring their friends to 
share any treasure they have discovered so invariably 
as might be assumed from the statements of previous 

No doubt bees, like people, differ, and very likely the 
members of a large and flourishing apiary may have their 
wits sharpened by much competition — like people in a 
crowded community. 

The ancients believed in the olfactory power of bees, 
and Aristotle says, — 

" Insects can smell from a great distance. Bees scent 
honey, for they perceive it from long distances, as if they 
discovered it by scent." 

And Pliny says, in speaking of bees when swarming, — 

"If one of them falls in the rear from weariness or 
happens to go astray, it is able to follow the others by 
the aid of its acuteness of smell." 

52 The Honey-Makers 

The antennae, in some mysterious way, afford means of 
communication. By them the bee says all it feels to its 
friends and relatives. 

Watch two bees meet on a window-frame : they instantly 
cross feelers, and if they come from the same hive there 
ensues such an outpouring of bee-talk, such a tremor of 
crossed antennae, such an evident condition of excitement 
all through their bodies as might well fill the most practised 
gossip with envy. 

One can imagine the graphic terms in which they relate 
the recent awful experience of their capture, how they were 
suddenly and rudely jerked from a sweet blossom, and after 
indescribable shaking about in a strange thing made of 
bands too close together for them to get through and too 
tough for them to bite through, finally found themselves, as 
they supposed, free. 

The joy after the fear! but alas, their happiness was of 
short duration ; for when they attempted to return to the 
clover field visible in the distance, they found themselves 
suddenly cliecked in mid-career by what seemed a wall of 
thickened air, a strange, hard, cold, transparent nightmare 
of a barrier which they could see through, but could not 

Poor little bees, no wonder their antennae fly in the 
discussion of such queer facts, and how fortunate that 
the ears of the ogre, their captor, are not attuned to the 
remarks of their antennae, as they express their opinion 
concerning him morally mentally, and physically ! 

Just what bees talk about is their secret — also just how 
they talk. Suffice it to know that they do talk, or at least 
have a method of communication which, it may be, more 
resembles the sign language of the human deaf mutes than 
the articulate speech of those able to hear. 

Perhaps it is a series of touches or taps like those of the 

Eyes, AntenncB, and Brain 53 

telegraphic code, — but what is the use in speculating about 
it? Whatever the method, this we may be sure of, they 
know each other when they meet by crossing antennae, 
and they know strangers in the same way, and are as 
eager to converse stingwise with a stranger bee as they 
are to gossip amicably with a friend. 

When one advances a pencil or other small object 
towards a bee that apparently is sound asleep, long before 
the object is within what one would suppose to be notice- 
able distance, the antennae fly out. They work nervously 
back and forth, as though inquiring the quality and mean- 
ing of the approaching object. 

The bee examines objects at a distance by means of 
these remarkable organs, and those within reach by gently 
tapping or touching them with the tips of the antennae, 
which, as we know, are best supphed with sensory organs. 

When the bee is asleep, or resting undisturbed, the 
antennae droop in a seemingly helpless manner ; but at 
the slightest hint of disturbance, these reliable sentinels 
are elevated and on duty. 

No doubt bees recognize their queen by touching her 
with the antennae, as Huber performed a number of care- 
ful experiments to prove. He separated the queen from 
the bees by a wire partition, through which they could see, 
hear, and smell her, but could not touch her ; and they soon 
betrayed all the symptoms of a queenless colony, and began 
to build cells in which to raise a new queen. But when the 
queen was so confined that they could touch her with their 
antennae, they showed no inclination to build queen cells. 
They knew she was there, and they were comforted. 
Doubtless, too, the information that the queen is missing 
is conveyed from bee to bee by crossing the antennae, as 
Huber also demonstrated. 

With its antennae alone, our bee would be better en- 

54 The Honey-Makers 

dowed with sense power than seems to be the case with 
many a being having a merely human complement of eyes, 
ears, nose, and tongue. 

One can but wonder if the bee's joy in living is acute in 
proportion to the amazing sensitiveness of these wonderful 
organs. We should very much like to know that. 

Inside the head is the motor that runs the tongue, eyes, 
and antennae, and gives the bee its consciousness of the 
outer world. 

The small size of the bee's brain makes its power seem 
to us the more wonderful. From it emanates such wisdom 
that from all time the bee has been held as a model before 

Concerning it Moffett says, voicing the beliefs that had 
come down through the ages, — 

'' Whereas the Almighty hath created all things for the 
use and service of Man, so especially among the rest hath 
he made Bees, not only that they should be unto us pat- 
terns and presidents of political and oeconomical vertues, 
but even Teachers and School masters instructing us in 
certain divine knowledge, and like extraordinary Prophets, 
premonstrating the success and event of things to come." 

And again, — 

" Xenophon likewise in his Oeconomicks, termeth 
Honey-making the Shop of vertues, and to it sendeth 
mothers of Housholds to be insti-ucted. Poets gladly 
compare themselves with Bees, who following Nature only 
as a School-mistress, use Art." 

Although the bee's brain is so small an object, it is com- 
plex, and can better be understood by a brief glance at the 
general nervous system. 

In the larva, which is the undeveloped bee, there is very 
little differentiation of the nervous system. 

The business of the larva is to eat and assimilate food 

Eyes, Antennas, and Brain 55 

through all parts of the body. Hence the nervous system 
is very much alike from end to end, the ganglia being but 
little larger and more complex at the head end. 

In the adult bee the conditions of life are very different. 
Instead of devoting its life to eating, it now devotes it to 
providing food for others, and in performing many com- 
plex actions requiring a high form of intellect. 
Consequently in our adult bee we have the 
nervous system centred more toward the head, 
and culminating in a comparatively large and 
well-developed brain. 

So far as the nervous material of bees is con- 
cerned, there is no great difference between 
them and ourselves. Their form demands a 
different location for nerve-trunks, but the nerves 
themselves, like those of the higher animals, are 
composed of bundles of sensory and motor fibres, and 
distributed along the course of some of the nerves are 
found ganglia. The brain is composed of gray and white 
matter, as in the higher animals, and is 
without doubt the organ of consciousness 
and intelligence. 

Besides containing the brain, the bee's 
head holds also three sets of glands, the 
smaller one opening within the mandible 
on either side, while a larger set opens at 
the base of the tongue. 

The secretion of these two sets of glands 
is probably saliva, and with it must mingle 
any nectar entering the bee's mouth, and 
thus probably is the nectar at once partly changed before it 
reaches the stomach. 

The third set of glands within the head opens into 
the mouth, and is credited with very remarkable func- 


The Honey-Makers 

tions, first secreting the silk of which the larva spins its 
cocoon, and later supplying a liquid food for the young 

Numerous muscles, as we know, also find a resting-place 
and points of attachment within the head. 




In the long-bodied, golden-hued Italian bee, the wings 
are not more than three-fourths the length of the abdomen. 

Clinging to the flowers with these small and dainty- 
gossamers vibrating above its form, the little creature seems 
like some tiny sprite bearing wings for beauty rather than 
for use. 

Yet the airy wings of our pretty bee are most 'effectual 
instruments of flight, carrying her many miles in the course 
of a summer day. 

Butler quaintly tells us that " Nature hath furnished her 
with four wings : which, swifter than the East-wind, carry her 
into all the four coasts of the world ; and thence with her 
precious lading bear her back again, until her incessant 
labor hath worn them out." 

The thorax, that division of the body next back of the 
head, is specially devoted to the organs of progression^ 
bearing as it does the wings and the 
legs. Isolate the thorax and its ap- ^/'^f;| 
pendages, and we appear to have the 
principal part of the bee, certainly it is the most showy 

The head possesses the organs of sense and the wonderful 
tongue ; the abdomen, which is the last division of the body, 
carries the complex and respected sting ; but the thorax 
controls the usefulness of all these, since it has attached to 
it the means of locomotion. 

58 The Honey-Makers 

In dealing with the bee's power of movement, it is right 
that the wings have precedence of the legs, they being the 
more poetical, dainty, and as well uppermost in position of 
all the organs of progression. 

The description of bees given by Moffett that " they have 
four wings, being of a bright and clear color, growing to 
their shoulder-blades, whereof the two hindermost are the 
lesser, because they might not hinder their flying," is not 
without its merits. 

Certainly they have four wings of a bright and clear color. 

One could scarcely better describe the appearance of the 
shining transparent gauzes that adorn the bee's back, and 
if they are not attached to the shoulder-blades, at least they 
are attached to what doubtless would be shoulder-blades if 
the bee had shoulders. 

They are where the shoulder-blades of the human being 
are located, and to speak of them in this way immediately 
and accurately places them, in the imaginative and unpreju- 
diced mind of the non-scientific observer. 

It is true, too, that there are four of them, and that the 
hindermost are the lesser. 

When flying, a bee appears to have but two wings, and 
practically this is true ; but when it comes to rest, these two 
accommodatingly resolve themselves into four, in order that 
the hindermost and lesser pair may be tucked away beneath 
the foremost and greater pair. 

The smaller and lighter the wings, the less do they 
hamper the movements of the bee, yet they must be strong 
and firm; and these wings have 
r a stiff framework like that of a 

kite, and like that are also over- 
laid with a thin light membrane 
against which the air can find resistance. The lines of the 
framework though quite complex are very constant, so that 

The Wings 59 

the species of a bee is determined by slight variations 
in them. 

On either side of the thorax, at the point of the supposi- 
tional shoulder-blades, two wings are attached. The points 
of attachment of the two are very close together, but when 
the wing is extended, the lesser and hindermost is seen to 
be placed a little behind the larger and foremost. 

While the double wing, when closed, is a great conven- 
ience in exploring flowers and moving about the crowded 
hive, it would be extremely disastrous when set for flight if 
the lesser and the greater were then to separate. But this 
they never do, as they are locked together in a very 
ingenious manner. 

The upper edge of the lower wing bears a row of hooks, 
the points of which are turned towards the inside. On the 
lower edge of the upper wing, opposite these hooks, is a 
fold forming a slender groove into which the hooks catch 
when the wings are raised. The 
mere act of raising the wings 
draws the hooks into the groove 
and locks them. 

The greater the pressure brought to bear against the 
surface of these locked wings, the more firmly are they held 
together, so they are in no danger of coming apart in the 
most rapid or erratic flight. 

Quickly and safely as the wings are locked into one, they 
can as easily be separated into two, when lowered against 
the back in a state of rest. 

The wings do not necessarily come unlocked when 
lowered however, and one often sees a captive bee with 
its locked wings spread over its back, as though it knew 
that were safe enough under the circumstances, and would 
not take the trouble to pack them away. But when it 
enters a flower or its hive, a slight motion of the upper 

6o The Honey-Makers 

wings separates them from the lower, when the latter slip 
away out of sight under the former. 

Important as it is that the bee should have ample wing 
expanse when flying, it is equally important that it be not 
hampered by outreaching wings when about its work in 
flowers and in the hive, where large wings would not only 
be inconvenient, but would be liable to become torn and 

The speed with which the wings move is amazing, it 
having been calculated that during their swiftest motion 
they make over four hundred vibrations a second ! 

Powerful muscles are necessary to sustain the bee's 
flight, and its thorax is a mass of muscles, perhaps the 
most remarkable of any in the world. 

Tiny threads they are, yet when one considers the work 
they do, the massive muscles that move the elephant or the 
ox are as nothing compared to them. 

The rapidity with which the bee is borne through the air 
is not very wefl known, as it is not an easy point to deter- 
mine. Cheshire says, — 

" My own observations lead me to suppose that the pace 
ranges between two and sixteen or eighteen miles per hour, 
depending upon the load and the nature of the errand — 
a bee, bearing the body of the deceased sister from the hive, 
taking the funereal pace, while those issuing forth on busi- 
ness bent go express." 

If the bee moved its small wings with the dehberation 
of the butterfly, they could not hold it suspended for a 
moment. But it has an engine that the butterfly dreams 
not of. At the moment of flight its thoracic muscles start 
the wings to moving with a rapidity that makes one think 
of a pair of buzz saws, and away goes the bee, merrily 
speeding through the air, its clieery hum an involuntary 
song of triumph to its own wonderful structure. 

The Wings 6i 

With its marvellous engine run by vital force in opera- 
tion, it can go where it listeth ; and while the more helpless 
butterfly is often blown about at the mercy of the wind, its 
gorgeous wings even serving as sails to catch the breeze 
and carry it far out to sea, the bee, like a trim little steam 
launch, heads up against the wind, and goes where it 

The exact manner in which the wings are used as organs 
of progression, raising the bee from the earth, speeding it 
in any direction, with or against the wind, taking it high in 
the air, or dropping it with lightness and accuracy upon 
a selected flower, is still a problem for philosophers to 
puzzle over. 

There is no doubt that the flight of the bee is aided, 
perhaps rendered possible, by a very wonderful system of 
air-sacs and air-tubes. 

There are large air-sacs in the upper end of the abdo- 
men, almost filling it when distended with air, and there 
are air-sacs at the bases of the wings. These air-sacs open 
to the surface by minute orifices called spiracles, one at the 
base of each of the four wings, and several others open on 
the sides of the abdominal walls. 

The bee, like the bird, is supplied with air-cavities to sus- 
tain it in its flight, and these air-cavities are also its " lungs." 

It pumps the air into them by a continuous motion of 
the abdomen when at rest, and has the power to close the 
spiracles, and thus shut in a large amount of air when it 
desires to fly. 

Packard tells us that the insect can change its specific 
gravity by filling or emptying its air-sacs, and that increased 
exertion causes increased activity in breathing, while de- 
creased exertion has of course the opposite effect, so that 
in hibernating insects respiration is almost entirely sus- 
pended. He also says that the air rushes into the thoracic 

62 The Honey-Makers 

spiracles when the wings are raised, filling the air-sacs in 
the body, lessening the specific gravity of the insect and 
enabling it to rise in the air and remain there with but 
slight muscular exertion. At the first stroke of the wings 
the spiracles are closed and the air retained. 

Girard says that inside each spiracle is a muscular valve 
that by opening or closing can let in or shut out the air, 
and that this is under the control of the insect, who can thus 
at will fill the air-sacs and decrease the specific gravity. 

Thus we find the breathing apparatus of the bee com- 
plex in structure and varied in function. It serves to 
aerate the blood and at the same time to make effective 
the action of the wings. 

Rapidity of respiration affects the temperature of the 
insect. The bumble-bee, according to Newport, raises its 
temperature by quickened respiration, and does this volun- 
tarily in order to generate heat for purposes of incubation. 

Doubtless the enclosed air, which is shut at the will of 
the bee into the air-sacs during flight, is heated by its body, 
thus becoming lighter, and acting as the gas in a balloon to 
increase the buoyancy. 

The bee cannot fly until its air-sacs are filled ; conse- 
quently when one which has been sleeping is suddenly 
roused, it cannot at once fly away, but makes a series of 
" hops," or little jumps, fanning its wings rapidly the while 
until the air-sacs are expanded with air and its body is in 
a condition for flight. 

The pitch of the bee's wing music depends upon the 
rapidity with which the wings vibrate, and it was this pitch 
from the wings of an excited bee that gave foundation to 
the declaration that the wings sometimes move at the rate 
of more than four hundred times a second. As a rule, 
however, they move considerably slower than this, the 
maximum rate of vibrations soon inducing exhaustion. 

The Wings 63 

By listening to the tone of the bee's wings, one can soon 
learn the state of its mind, for the low hum of happy in- 
dustry is . very readily distinguishable from the high-keyed 
note of fear or anger. 

When in the fields, one can soon learn to know the 
species of a bee by its hum, before the bee itself has been 
found by the eye. The low drowsy note of the bumble-bee 
can be recognized at once, and the sharp, short tone of the 
small wild bee is easily distinguishable from the pleasant, 
intermittent note of the honey-bee going from flower to 
flower, the most agreeable of all bee-voices. 

A sharp listener can even tell whether the sound pro- 
ceeds from the large or the small bumble-bee, and very 
likely one with gifted ears could tell, without seeing, just 
what species of the many wild bees that inhabit our land 
had crossed his path. 

The voices of the bees are as significant to those who 
love and listen as are the voices of the birds to the bird- 
lovers. These voices are only in part dependent upon the 
wings, however, as it has been ascertained that there is an 
apparatus in the tubes or tracheae leading from the spira- 
cles to the air-sacs, which, in a way, simulates our own vocal 
chords ; and that by forcing the air past these organs the 
bee can at will produce a humming sound. 

When a bee has lost its wings, or when they have been 
stuck together so as to be immovable, it can still " speak 
its mind" in a very shrill outcry. It is probable 
that the "crying" of bumble-bees caught in a net is due 
to the action of these vocal organs. Whoever has caught 
bumble-bees has been amused and even touched at the 
many-toned outcry they make, as though they were indeed 
callino- for help, or imploring the mercy of their captor. 
The sound is very distinct from the buzzing made by the 
wings as the bee flies from flower to flower. 

64 The Honey-Makers 

There is yet another bee-voice, as the French naturalist 

Girard tells us, — 

"The humming is not produced solely by the vibrating 
of the wings, as is generally admitted. Chabrier, Bur- 
meister, Landois, have discovered in the humming three 
different sounds : the first, caused by the vibrating of the 
wings ; the second, sharper, by the vibration of the rings of 
the abdomen ; the third, the most intense and acute, pro- 
duced by a true vocal mechanism placed at the orifices of 
the aerial tubes." 

The ancients often came curiously near the truth in their 
observations, and Aristotle, speaking of the sounds made by 
insects, including bees, says, — 

" Insects have neither voice nor speech, but make a 
sound with the air within them, not with that which is 

He then speaks of the buzzing of bees with their wings, 
and of the singing of grasshoppers, — 

*' All these make a noise with the membrane which is 
beneath the division of their body, in those which have a 

With such power of making various noises it would in- 
deed be strange if the bee were deaf, at least to the sounds 
made by its own kind, and there is every reason to believe 
it does hear and understand them. 

" When something seems to irritate the bees, who are in 
front of a hive on the alighting board," says a believer in 
the language of bees, " they emit a short sound, z-z-z, 
jumping at the same time towards the hive. This is a 
warning, then they fly and examine the object of their 
fears, remaining sustained by their wings near the sus- 
pected object, and emitting at the same time a distinct and 
prolonged sound. This is a sign of great suspicion. If 
the object moves quickly, or otherwise shows hostile intent. 

The Wings 65 

the song is changed into a piercing cry for help, in a voice 
whistling with anger. They dash forward violently and 
blindly, and try to sting. 

"When they are quiet and satisfied, their voice is the 
humming of a grave tune, or, if they do not move their 
wings, an allegro murmur. If they are suddenly caught 
or compressed, the sound is one of distress. If a hive 
is jarred at a time when all the bees are quiet, the mass 
speedily raise a hum, which ceases as suddenly. In a 
queenless hive, the sound is doleful, lasts longer, and at 
times increases in force. When bees swarm, the tune is 
clear and gay, showing manifest happiness." 
Langstroth adds, — ■ 

" The German pastor Stahala has published a very com- 
plete study on the language of bees, which has appeared 
in some of the bee-papers of Italy, France, and America. 
We do not consider it as altogether accurate ; but there 
are some sounds described that all bee-keepers ouglit to 
study, especially the doleful wail of colonies which have lost 
their queen, and have no means of rearing another." 

The voice of the bee humming about the flowers 
has always found favor with the poets, as in Virgil's 
" Bucolics," — ■ 

" Happy old man ! here, among well-known streams and 
sacred fountains, you will enjoy the cool shade. On this 
side, a hedge planted at the adjoining boundary, whose wil- 
low blossoms are ever fed on by Hyblaean bees, shall often 
court you by its gentle hummings to indulge repose. On 
the other side, the pruner beneath a lofty rock shall sing 
to the breezes : nor meanwhile shall either the hoarse 
wood-pigeons, thy delight, or the turtle from his lofty elm, 
cease to coo." 

Our modern poets are still enamoured of the voice of 
the bee, and Rogers stops us thus, finger on lip, — 


66 The Honey-Makers 

" Hark ! the bee winds her small, but mellow horn, 
Blithe to salute the sunny smile of morn ; " 

and Hogg, in his "Pilgrims of the Sun," sings,— 

"As they pass'd by. 
The angels paused, and saints that lay reposed 
In bowers of Paradise upraised their heads 
To list the passing music, for it went 
Swift as the wild bee's note, that on the wing 
Booms like unbodied voice along the gale." 

" Hark ! along the humming air 
Home the laden bees repair," 

says Milman in his " Martyr of Antioch," while the Bard 
of Avon, in " Troilus and Cressida," informs us, — 

" Full merrily the humble-bee doth sing, 
Till she hath lost her honey and her sting." 

The bee's wings, although so tiny, are yet larger than 
actually necessary to the performance of very creditable 
flight, as is often shown by old bees with worn and ragged 
wings. They oftentimes continue their nectar-seeking 
excursions in a state of wings that is truly deplorable. 

They keep going as long as the wings on both sides are 
equally worn, and are apparently unconscious that they 
are sadly in need of repairs, flying long distances and 
bringing home heavy loads. But if one wing gets torn 
much more than the other, the case is hopeless, and they 
can no longer maintain their balance. 

When a bee flies, it appears to give itself up to that 
glorious occupation as though wings were all there is to 
life. The heavy body droops a little downward, and the 
legs drop to their length, reminding one of the long legs 
that trail behind a flying heron. 

A ''bee-line," popularly supposed to be the most direct 

The Wings 67 

line to a given point, is in reality the most eccentric of 
courses ; and it is the swift curving from side to side that 
makes the flight of the bee so difficult for the eye to follow. 
Not improbably, bee-eating birds and insects experience an 
equal difficulty in following the course of the swift-darting 
morsel, that is seldom captured while thus describing its 

Nor does the bee dart in a straight line up into the air ; 
but when about to take its bearings for distant flight, it 
ascends to the regions above in a spiral course. 

Necessity has led the bee to put its wings to another 
use than that of flight. Following an instinct which may 
have developed as a result of communal life, it purifies 
the air of the hive by means of its wings, as Huber first 

The bee is much more dependent upon fresh air than 
we are. It is soon suffocated by foul air, and will not allow 
a degree of impurity within its hive which would be quite 
unnoticed by our senses. It lives in close quarters with 
many thousands of its kind, — in the ordinary hive from 
twenty to fifty thousand, — with only a small opening at 
the bottom of the hive. 

The conditions for ventilation seem to us, therefore, the 
worst that could be devised. But such as they are, they 
must be accepted ; for an opening at the top permitting a 
draught of air would oftentimes chill and prove fatal to the 
developing young. The hive must be warm within, and 
is kept so by the palpitating bodies of the countless 

But bees also breathe and. exhale from their bodies 
poisonous vapors as we ourselves do. Unlike the air in 
our habitations, however, that within the hive is always as 
pure, or very nearly so, as the air out of doors. 

68 The Honey-Makers 

This is accomplished by the bees themselves, who take 
turns standing near the entrance and fanning with their 
wings. The low hum of these living ventilating fans can 
be heard outside the hive, and particularly on warm close 
days when it is more difficult to supply the needs of the 
crowded tenement. 

So powerful is the draught from the wings of a fanning 
bee that it can be distinctly felt as a light cool breeze against 
the cheek when a captive bee performs this office. A 
piece of tissue-paper two inches square has been raised 
entirely free from the gauze covering to the little box in 
which bee-keepers send queen-bees by mail, by the fanning 
of a single bee ; and when a dozen or more bees have a 
fanning party in the box they produce quite a little 

Captive bees will sometimes fan for a long time, appar- 
ently for the pure pleasure of the exercise. They seem 
attacked by an ecstasy of fanning, and for the time are 
interested in nothing else. The writer of these chronicles 
has frequently held a pencil between the wings of a fanning 
bee, which stopped operations while it remained there, 
but the instant the pencil was removed the wings started 
again as if run by machinery. 

When fanning, the abdomen is raised, the head lowered, 
and the bee clings fast with its feet, moving slightly from 
side to side, or turning partly around. 

It sometimes presents the appearance of performing a 
solemn dance, though the solemnity of the occasion is 
considerably marred by the wings that move so rapidly 
they irresistibly suggest a short gauze ballet skirt. 

The bee's method of ventilation, driving both ])ure and 
impure air through one opening at the bottom of the 
apartment, and their brilliant success in accomplishing their 

The Wings 


purpose, suggests the idea that their method might pos- 
sibly be used successfully by architects in ventilating public 
buildings, it having the advantage of economy and of gain- 
ing the desired object without producing the " draught " 
so greatly feared by modern man. 



Although less airy and poetical than the wings, the legs 
of the bee have an interest of their own. In fact, when 
properly understood, they do not fall far short of the wings 
in poetic value ; and if the ancients had known them as we 
do, the bee's legs, no doubt, would have been immortal- 
ized in song and made the subject of innumerable graceful 

As it is, the poets have done scant justice to the legs of 
my lady the bee, though Milton in " II Penseroso " thus al- 
ludes to her pollen-laden thigh, — 

" Hide me from the garish eye, 
While the bee with honeyed thigh, 
That at her flowery work doth sing, 
And the waters murmuring, 
With such concert as they keep, 
Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep." 

And Shakespeare in " Henry IV." — using the bees in a 
simile — speaks of " thighs packed with wax," a mistake as 
to the office of thighs, for they never carry wax, but a 
tribute to the thighs themselves that we cannot afford to 
let pass unnoticed. 

The bee's legs perform the usual offices of legs : running, 
walking, jumping, climbing, and clinging, and do these 
things very well ; but this is the prose side, for they are 
furnished with ingenious and beautiful instruments for per- 
forming offices not usually accorded to mere legs. But 

The Legs yi 

bees' legs are gifted organs, blessed with a versatility other- 
wise unknown in the realm of legs. 

The bee has six of them, as is the habit among insects, 
three on either side of the thorax and attached to it. 

Each leg consists of ten joints ; a small compact joint 
(i) next the body, called by naturalists the coxa. This is 
much ahke in all the legs, and 
serves the useful purpose of at- 
taching the remainder of the leg 
to the body by a highly movable 

Next comes another short joint 
(2), the trochanter, which serves 
chiefly to give to the leg freedom 
of motion. 

The third joint (3), or femur, is 
long and rigid ; and these three joints are densely clothed 
with long-branched hairs that have an important office. 

The fourth joint (4), or tibia, is long and more or less 
covered with hairs. It is remarkably modified in the 
different pairs of legs, and is as interesting as anything we 
have yet seen about this very interesting insect. 

The fifth joint (5), or metatarsus, is also long and 

The remaining five joints are short and triangular, fitting 
together so as to give them great flexibility in moving. 
They are sometimes called the " foot," and the last joint 
of these consists of the "toes" or " hooks." 

The legs gain much freedom of motion from the nu- 
merous joints, while the design of the different divisions 
allows them to be folded up close to the body when not 

As organs of walking and running, the legs are efficient 
enough for the purpose of the bee, who travels only short 

72 The Honey-Makers 

distances by means of her legs, and who, unhke the spider, 
the daddy-long-legs, and other long-legged folk, has no 
necessity for leg speed. 

The usual gait of the bee is a rather slow walk, and when 
she runs she usually evokes the aid of the wings, as the hen 
does when she attempts to run. 

A bee does not jump much excepting when frightened 
or angry — then she goes along by little hops that make 
her ladyship appear rather ridiculous — as angry folk are 
wont to appear. If a captive bee is annoyed by a pencil 
placed in front of her to cause her to go in a certain direc- 
tion, instead of travelhng as desired, she will often jump at 
the pencil with open jaws, and give it a good biting for 
troubling her. She seems to know there is no use in sting- 
ing a senseless thing like a pencil, and does not make the 
slightest attempt to do so. Try to persuade her to change 
her course against her will with the end of your finger, 
however, and you will soon discover whether she knows 
the difference between that and a pencil. 

The ''foot" of the bee, being extremely flexible, enables 
its owner to gather flower-petals in her grasp, so to speak, 
and to curl her foot about the edge of a stalk or a cell of 
honey-comb. The final joint is particularly movable, and 
consists of two pairs of curved and pointed hooks, or 
" toes," a tuft of long, strong hairs between them, and a 
curious, soft, and flexible disk X, also lying between the 
pairs of hooks, and enabling the bee to climb upon smooth 
and upright surfaces. 

This little white disk can be seen with the naked eye 
when the bee is ascending a window-pane, and hke the 
foot of the fly it exudes a liquid that enables the owner to 
cling to the glass. 

By a certain motion of the foot the disk is peeled up 
and the bee freed. 

The Legs jn 

When walking on rough surfaces, the disk, ox pulvilla, is 
folded together and turned back out of the way, the toes 
clinging to the irregularities. 

The toes can be turned up so as to form veritable hooks 
from which the bee can suspend itself. The strength of 
these hooks is remarkable, they being able to maintain 
their position hours at a time, 
and bearing several thousand 
times the weight of the bee, 
as in the case of swarming, 
where the upper bees are 
hooked fast to the tree branch 
or other support, and the rest 
of the swarm suspended from 

The six feet are all alike ; 
but while the legs share 
equally in the labors of walk- 
ing, running, jumping, clinging, and climbing, each pair has 
its own individual duties, different from all the rest ; and 
to aid in the performance of these duties, each has its 
own special and peculiar implements with vvhicli to accom- 
plish its designs. 

The foremost pair of legs is the smallest and shortest, 
being attached to the thorax as close to the head as pos- 
sible. These legs are indeed the servants of the head, 
keeping it and its important organs free from disturbing 

One prime function of the legs is to keep the bee clean. 

A cat does not make as elaborate a toilet nor keep itself 
as neat as a bee, the cleanliness of the little creature having 
been noticed and commented upon from Aristotle down. 

Butler says, — " For cleanliness and neatness they may 
be a mirror to the finest dames." 

74 The Honey-Makers 

To watch a bee at its toilet is as edifying as it is amus- 
ing. One does not need to arrive at a certain hour nor 
wait at all for the performance to begin. 

It is only necessary to catch your bee — and let it free 
on the window — and it will at once commence upon its 
elaborate and endless toilet. If it is sull<y, or perchance 
considers itself clean enough for the present company, it 
can at once be brought to another mind by breathing upon 
it, when it will fall into a very justifiable rage and after 
venting its feelings in strong bee language will fall vehe- 
mently to work freeing every part of its diminutive person 
from the obnoxious exhalations. Or, dust it ever so lightly 
with a bit of fine flour. 

No matter how dusty it is, or how badly stuck up from 
having been cruelly smeared with honey or syrup, it will 
cause itself to shine like a new bee in a few minutes, unless 
its spiracles have been smeared over and closed, when it will 
perish from suffocation. 

First of all, its front legs will clean its precious antennse. 

Since the antennae bear the principal sensory organs it 
is very important that they be kept perfectly clean at all 
times, and this is accomplished by an almost ceaseless 
applying of comb and brush to these wonderful organs. 

It is the duty of the front legs to clean the antennae and 
they are always ready — and nearly always doing it. In 
the midst of honey-gathering after every dip into a 
pollen-dusted flower the bee stops for a second to clean 
the dust from its feelers. This can be done very quickly, 
though a thorough cleaning takes more time, and a bee 
may often be seen apparently resting from its labor on a 
clover-head. But it is not resting — it is cleaning its 
antennas. Whenever a bee appears to be resting in the 
midst of its work you may be pretty sure it is doing nothing 
of the sort but on the contrary is as busy as a bee can be 

The Legs 


Fig. I. 

removing every pollen grain and particle of dust from its 
ear-holes, smell-hollows, and sensory hairs. 

This it does by a very ingenious apparatus in the bend of 
the foreleg between the tibia and the metatarsus, — that is, 
between the fourth and fifth joints. 

On the upper inner edge of the meta- 
tarsus is a semicircular groove just large 
enough to hold the antenna and sur- 
rounded on the outside edge by an out- 
ward pointing comb of very fine teeth. 

Hanging from the lower inside edge of 
the tibia is a curious valve-like structure 
X, which, when the leg is flexed (Fig. 2) 
covers the opening to the semi-circular groove. 

Seen from above this lid or valve somewhat resembles a 
slightly irregular curved fish scale with a keel running 
through the centre. 

The antenna, when the leg is 
raised above it and then low- 
ered, slips into the groove, the 
leg joint is then flexed, bringing 
the valve down so that the an- 
tenna is caught as in a trap. The leg 
being moved outward, the antenna is 
drawn through, the comb on one side 
and the thin edge of the valve on the other scraping it 


This apparatus is evidently designed specially for clean- 
ing the antenna and is a remarkable illustration of the 
development of an organ for a special purpose. 

It is used very quickly and very frequently, and one 
watching a bee will surely see it draw its feelers through 
the cleaners. 

The cleaning apparatus can be seen with the naked eye. 


The Honey-Makers 


particularly on a large bumble-bee, and very beautifully seen 
through an ordinary magnifying lens. 

Along the back of the joint containing the groove is a 
row of stiff strong hairs, as can be seen in the illustration, 
and these serve the purpose of an 
ordinary hair-brush, combing or 
brushing out the dust and pollen 
from the hairs on the bee's head, 
and particularly from the eye 

Almost as often as the bee cleans 
its antennas it brushes its head and 

There is another important brush on the forelegs, oppo- 
site the hanging valve, used to sweep out the teeth of the 
groove on the opposite leg and to clean off the pollen from 
the long branched hairs that grow upon the four upper 
joints of the leg. 

The stiff hairs on the short foot joints are also toilet 

Instruments that do so much cleaning for other parts 
must themselves be kept clean, and this office the forelegs 
perform for each other. The bee may often be seen 
standing on its four hindermost legs apparently washing 
its hands with invisible soap in invisible water. Then it 
crosses its arms thus bringing the outside of one against 
the brush of stiff hairs on the outside of the other, and 
moves the two up and down until both are thoroughly 

The proboscis does not escape in the general cleaning 
up but is lowered, grasped by both forelegs at once, and 
vigorously polished. 

It is amusing to watch a bee standing on its four remain- 
ing legs and holding fast to its tongue with both hands as it 




were, though occasionally when needing its forefoot for 
support it will have but one with which to rub its 

Butler treats us to the following : — 
" Her rough and dew-clawed feet, apt to take hold at 
the first touch, are in number six : that she may stand 
fast upon four, while she useth the other two to wipe her 
eyes, her wings, her tongue, or any other part." 

Neither are the jaws neglected, but occasionally are 
opened and polished by their tidy owner. 

The top of the bee's head, the thorax 
above and below and the upper joints of 
all the legs are clothed with long branched 
hairs for collecting pollen. These " gath- 
ering hairs " are admirably planned to 
catch and hold the pollen grains that 
touch them, and are found on all pollen- 
gathering bees. The pollen that adheres to the legs and 
body of the bee is a valuable part of its food, and is by it 
brushed together and saved. 

The second pair of legs is larger and longer than the first 
pair. These legs have no antennae cleaners, but at nearly 
the same place on the tibia is a long stout spur used in 
cleaning the wings and body as well as 
to push out the contents of the pollen 
baskets that are located on the third 
pair of legs. The metatarsus of this 
leg is covered with a coarse brush and 
the bee can often be seen with one 
of its middle legs over its back ener- 
getically rubbing the pollen from the 
branched hairs there and frequently 
lowering the leg so employed to rub it between the back 
legs and relieve it of the accumulated load. 


The Honey-Makers 

The bee is also frequently seen with one of its middle 
legs doubled under it, in the act of rubbing the pollen from 
the hairs of the breast. 

The last or third pair of legs is perhaps the most curious 
and interesting of all. 

Upon them are the baskets for storing and carrying 
home the pollen ; these are borne 
by all the workers but not by the 
queen and drones. 

The pollen-basket, or corbiculura, 
is the hollowed outer side of the 
tibia bordered by stiff hairs. The 
hairs along the edges curve in, thus 
forming the sides of the " basket " 
and preventing the contents from 
falling out. Every one has noticed 
the "honeyed thigh " of the bee, as 
laden with yellow, white, red, or 
brown pollen it scrambles over the 
flowers adding to the load. 

In order to bring its branched 
hairs in contact with the pollen 
grains the bee rushes about over a 
bed of flowers as if looking for 
something it had lost, scampering 
back and forth and turning about 
in a dazed manner. 
When on a single flower it gathers the pollen from the 
anthers with the legs, scraping thern back and forth against 
each other to good purpose as the rapidly enlarging ball 
of pollen on the " thigh " proves. The pollen is made 
sufficiently adhesive by being occasionally moistened with 

Sometimes bees gather honey and pollen at the same 

Outside of third leg on 
riglit side. Dotted 
lines represent load 
of pollen. 

The Legs 79 

time, sometimes nothing but honey as the bare tliighs tes- 
tify, and sometimes nothing but pollen. 

At the joint between the tibia and metatarsus, and best 
seen on the inside of the leg, is a curious modification 
known as the wax -jaws. This in reahty is a pair of 
pincers by which the bee grasps and removes the scale; 
of wax from the abdominal plates. The end ^^ 

of the tibia {E) is curved and fringed with 
stiff hairs that shut down against a plate 
{P) on the metatarsus, thus forming the 

The metatarsus on the inner side bears a 
beautiful shining golden-brown comb {C) of 
several rows of stiff bristle-like hairs. These 
comb pollen from the breast of the bee, comb 
down the wings, clean the middle pair of legs, 
clean the abdomen above and below and clean 
each other. With the exception of the an- 
tennae cleaners they are the most often used 
of all the implements of the toilet. 

The wing is cleaned by being caught be- 
tween the body and these combs ; the upper 
wing by itself, first one side and then the 
other, and the lower one in the same way. 

These combs also make the final gathering of pollen and 
deliver the load to the basket of the opposite leg. 

On all the legs cleaning hairs are mingled with the gath- 
ering hairs in order to keep the pollen-dusted litde creature 

Bees vvill clean each other of honey, though they do not 
take equal pains to restore to purity a sister distressed by 
other substances. 

When disturbed slightly bees have a curious habit of 
raising the middle and last legs on one side of the body, as 

8o The Honey-Makers 

if they meant to strike, or give warning to the intruder to 
stand back. 

Bumble-bees are particularly given to this habit, and it 
is very amusing to see the warning legs fly up when one 
comes too close. 

The legs are always used in this way when a stranger bee 
comes too near and the intruder thus repulsed generally 
takes the hint, unless it happens to be out of temper, when 
a fight ensues, a fight that always leaves the wounded in 
the throes of death. 

It may be that these elevated legs are useful in catching 
hold of an enemy, for in this position the body can easily 
be jerked around and the fatal sting inserted. 




The bees are chemists, transforming the thin crude 
nectar of the blossoms into honey, dehcious to the taste 
and differing from nectar in several particulars. 

When nectar is drawn up into the mouth of the bee it 
there mingles with a certain digestive fiuid or saliva and in 
company with this pursues its course through the thread- 
Hke oesophagus to the honey-sac, which is located in the 
front blunt end of the abdomen. 

This httle sac has delicate, transparent walls and looks 
like a bubble when removed unbroken. It contains less 
than a drop of nectar, which shines through the body-wall 
when the bee is seen against the light, giving the little 
creature an airy appearance that is particularly marked in 
the golden-bodied Italian bee. 

Butler thus describes the honey-sac : — 

" The nectar or liquid honey, the bees gather with their 
tongues ; whence they let it down into their bottles, which 
are within them, hke unto bladders ; each of them will 
hold but a drop at once. 

" You may see their little bellies strut withal." 

Nectar contains cane sugar ; honey, grape sugar, the 
change being effected by the saliva, or it may be partly by 
that and partly by digestive fluids in the honey-sac. 

Nectar is neutral while honey has an acid reaction, the 
formic acid, present in honey, probably being secreted by 


82 The Honey-Makers 

glands in the bee's head, and doubtless acting as a pre- 
servative against fermentation. 

Honey is generally thin and watery when first taken to 
!he hive, but as it is deposited in the cells less than a drop 
at a time much of the extra water evaporates, and further 
to facilitate evaporation the bees leave the cells uncapped 
for several days when nearly full. Sometimes the bees 
accelerate this "ripening" process by a vigorous fanning 
which may continue all night when honey is coming in 

The more thoroughly the honey is ripened the less liable 
it is to ferment, a fact in chemistry with which the bees 
seem to be acquainted. 

The consistency of new honey depends somewhat upon 
the source from which it was gathered and also upon the 
haste with which it was stored. 

The relative amount of cane and grape sugar seems also 
to depend upon the haste with which the honey was gath- 
ered and stored, the best honey containing but from one 
to three per cent of cane sugar, while poor honey, that 
probably gathered quickly from abundant nectar close to 
the hive and disgorged before the digestive juices have 
completed their work, may contain as much as sixteen per 
cent of cane sugar. 

The walls of the honey-sac are surrounded by delicate 
muscles that by contraction are able to force the contents 
back to the mouth, whence it is conveyed to the cells of 
the honey-comb. 

If a bee is teased after a full meal, or suddenly fright- 
ened, it will sometimes regurgitate the honey, which then 
may be seen hanging to the proboscis. 

Since pollen must pass through the honey-sac into the 
true stomach beyond, the question arises as to how the bee 
is able to fill the combs with clear honey containing but the 

Honey-Sac and Wax-Pockets 83 

slightest trace of pollen. To answer this it is necessary 
to examine the honey-sac with a magnifying glass or a 
low-power microscope, when a curious organ, the " honey- 
mouth," is discovered. 

This httle " honey-mouth," placed at the back 
opening of the honey-sac, is firm and resisting 
in substance and looks not unlike a closed-up 
sea-anemone, or an unopened hlac bud. It is 
closed by four valves fringed by short, stiff hairs 
pointing out. It has been observed that by the 
muscular contraction of the walls of the honey-sac the 
pollen grains which have been swallowed with 
the honey are collected together and finally 
passed through this " mouth," whose valves 
open to accommodate them. 

Whatever extra honey escapes with the pollen 
through the mouth can readily be restored to 
the honey-sac by contraction of the muscles be- 
low the mouth, when the hairs prevent the pollen 
from also returning. In short, the "honey- 
mouth " is a cleverly devised strainer to free 
the honey in the sac from pollen grains. 

Although nectar is changed by the bee it still 
retains a trace of its origin, and an expert honey taster can 
often tell by the flavor from what flowers the honey was 
gathered, as the flavor, color, and quality of honey depend 
to a great degree upon the blossoms whence it came. 

Besides the aroma and flavor it retains from the flowers, 
however, all honey has a characteristic taste and odor ; it 
is "hke honey," no matter what its source. This honey 
odor is always discernible about the bee, the hive it inhab- 
its, and the wax it secretes. 

The nectar of flowers does not as a rule give forth the 
odor of honey. Indeed, nectar taken from the honey-sac 

84 The Honey-Makers 

of a bee, even after having been there an hour or more, 
often has no odor or flavor of honey. This is true, not 
only of a bee kept in confinement and fed upon sugar 
syrup, but of bees gathering nectar in the fields. But 
after the honey has been stored in the hive redolent of 
bees it nearly always has the characteristic honey flavor 
and fragrance. 

Everything about a bee smells of honey ; even the poison 
of the sting, though unpleasantly strong, suggests it. 

Is not this the " race-odor " of the bee ? 

Every creature has its own peculiar race-odor, by which, 
as we know, it is often discovered by others of its kind. 

Plants too have their race-odor by which we distinguish 
a lily from a rose. 

Fortunately for us the honey-maker is an animated blos- 
som that distils a delightful fragrance. 

Of course a part of the honey gathered is consumed by 
the bee itself and this passes with the pollen into the true 
stomach where it is digested and then assimilated. 

The waste is always ejected from the body of the workers 
outside the hive during flight. 

This fact was noted by the ancients, and is another cause 
of the bee's reputation for purity and cleanliness. This is 
not the result of volition on the part of the bee, however, 
as the structure of the worker is such that in a state of 
health the excrementitious matter cannot be voided except- 
ing in the act of flight. 

Honey from all time has been esteemed for its curative 
properties, and is to-day valued for coughs and as Butler 
says, " cleareth the obstructions of the body." 

Moffett recommends giving infants honey for " breeding 
teeth," and a modern writer says, — 

" Honey promotes the excretions and dissolves the gluti- 
nous and starchy impedimenta of the body." 

Honey-Sac and Wax-Pockets 85 

Honey was in ancient times believed to have the power 
of procuring clearness of vision, which may be one reason 
for its reputation in giving the power of divination, the 
clearness of the physical vision being referred to the mental 
power of seeing. 

" The honey pure and neat wherein the Bees are dead, 
let that drop into the eyes ; or honey mixt with the ashes 
of the heads of Bees, maizes the eyes very clear," is 
Marcellus' opinion according to Moffett. Galen recom- 
mends mingling one part of the gall of the sea-tortoise 
with four parts of honey. 

Galen also gives another prescription, — • 

" Take Bees dead in combs, and when they are through 
dry make them into powder, mingle them with the honey 
in which they died, and anoint the parts of the Head that 
are bald and thin haired, and you shall see them grow 

This prescription does not appear to be in general use 
at the present time ! 

Moffett would have us believe that their ashes " beaten 
with Oyl " are good to make the hair white. 

Bees and honey are put to many other medicinal uses ; 
indeed in the opinion of Moffett " Honey wherein is found 
dead Bees, is a very wholesome medicine, serving for all 

The value of honey is not confined to its effect upon 
the human body, and at the present time it is used as well 
in manufacturing to stiffen certain cotton fabrics ; and in 
the arts it is used in forming adhesive compounds as well 
as for other purposes. 

According to Bevan the Jews of Moldavia and the 
Okraine prepare from honey a sort of sugar, which is solid 
and as white as snow, and which is sent to the distilleries 
at Dantzic. The honey is placed in a vessel which is a 

86 The Honey-Makers 

bad conductor of heat, and exposed to frost, protected from 
sun and snow, for three weeks. As a result of this treat- 
ment the honey becomes clear and hard like sugar. 

The French chemist M. Cadet of Vaux gives the 
following method of purifying honey as a substitute for 
sugar. Boil honey and water with charcoal. Strain, boil, 
and skim until it hardens when dropped in water. 

Honey is used for preserving fruits and also for envelop- 
ing and thereby preserving grafts, birds' eggs, and valuable 
seeds which have to be transmitted from one climate to 
another, and it is said to keep them available for a con- 
siderable time. 

Besides the honey-sac the abdomen of the bee contains 
the remarkable " wax-pocket." 

Aristotle tells us "wax is made from flowers ;" and 
Pliny says : '' Bees form wax from the blossoms of all 
trees and plants, with the sole exception of the rumex 
(sorrel, or monk's rhubarb) and the echinopodes (a kind 
of broom)." 

For long it was believed that the bees collected wax from 
flowers and brought it home on their thighs like pollen. 

Even Butler says : — 

"The matter thereof [to make cells] they gather from 
flowers with their fangs ; which being kept soft in their 
mouths, with the heat of their little bodies, of the air, and 
of their hives, is wrought into combs." 

Later it was believed that pollen was changed into wax 
in the stomach of the bee. 

It is now known that wax is a product of honey, which 
is eaten by the bee, altered into a fluid secretion by glands 
beneath the abdominal walls, and exuded as wax. 

The abdomen of the bee is formed of rings held to- 
gether by a flexible membrane so that they can overlap 
each other or be drawn apart somewhat like a telescope 

Honey-Sac and Wax-Pockets 87 

The worker-bee has six abdominal rings, each composed 
of several pieces, one being on the under side and forming 
a broad curved plate. The part of each plate on the sec- 
ond, third, fourth and fifth rings overlapped by the pre- 
ceding ring is smooth and light colored, and a UtUe sunken 
so that it forms a shallow well ; and when 
overlapped by the edge of the plate above 
is the so-called wax-pocket. The tissue 
inside the bee, beneath these depressions, L^-^iij^.g_ 
is glandular in structure and secretes a 
hquid which exudes through the plate to 
the outer surface, where it hardens into a 
thin transparent scale of wax. These tiny scales are 
sometimes pushed down by exudations of the wax fluid 
above, and during the period of most active secretion may 
often be seen extending partly over the plate below. As 
the wax forms it is taken as needed from the pockets by 
the wax-jaws on the last pair of legs and conveyed to the 
mouth, where it is moulded and mixed with saliva to a 
consistency and form suitable to comb building. Bee- 
keepers have often tried to find a substitute for wax, but 
their artificial products have never been successful, the 
paraffine and other materials used lacking the necessary 
consistency and power to resist heat and breaking down 
in the hive, even when the bees can be induced to use 

The bee consumes vast quantities of honey at certain 
seasons ; but instead of growing fat thereon, it gives forth 
wax. Wax is a very cosdy product, the bees using from 
ten to sixteen pounds of honey to produce one pound 
of it. 

Honey and wax have been used as medicine from the 
earliest times, and wax was the foundation of plasters in 
past ages. 

88 The Honey-Makers 

It was also used in many other ways, some of which 
Moffett explains : — 

" The rich, sick, or great men, desire their candles to be 
made of it, by reason of the sweet smell. Also the use of 
wax is not small in stopping the chinks in vessels, for tents 
in the camp to keep out rain, for bed-ticks that the 
feathers fly not out, to joyn pipes made of reeds, as Ovid 
sang concerning the shepherds of old. 

" And with the Reed well waxed they play'd and sang. 

"■ Also the most excellent Painters painted with wax, as 
Pliny reports, and they adorned ships with it. This kinde 
of painting, though it were not hurt by salt, nor by sun, 
nor by the winde, yet it was lost we know not how, when 
Apelles, Protogenes, and Zeuxis died. Also the Ancients 
were wont to smear over their writing-tables with wax 
before that paper was invented, as Juvenal describes it." 

Butler informs us that an oil of marvellous virtue in 
curing disease was distilled from wax. 

Sealing-wax for letters and documents was also made of 
beeswax, which was of different colors in different coun- 
tries, and Moffett informs us that the bees of America 
gathered black wax. Either the Americans at that time 
were very careless in preparing their wax, or else the 
" American " wax came from Mexico or South America, 
where the tropical bees build a very dark-colored comb. 

Shakespeare alludes to the use of wax in sealing docu- 
ments in " Henry VI." where the rebels under Jack Cade 
meet on Blackheath, and one says, " The first thing we do, 
let 's kill all the lawyers." 

To which Cade replies, — 

"Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable 
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be 
made parchment? that parchment being scribbled o'er. 
should undo a man? Some say the bee stings : but I say 

Honey-Sac and Wax-Pockets 89 

't is the bee's wax ; for I did but seal once to a thing, and 
I was never mine own man since." 

Again in "King Lear," where Edgar, son of Gloucester, 
kills the steward and takes letters from his pocket, he says 
while breaking the seal, — 

" Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not : 
To know our enemies' minds, we 'd rip their hearts ; 
Their papers, is more lawful." 

In " Cynibeline " where Imogen receives a letter from 
her husband Leonatus she exclaims, — 

" Good wax, thy leave : — bless'd be, 
You bees, that make these locks of counsel 1 Lovers 
And men in dangerous bonds pray not alike : 
Though forfeiters you cast in prison, yet 
You clasp young Cupid's tables." 



The ancients were as familiar with the stings of bees 
from a practical point of view as we are, but they were 
more concerned in discovering a moral than a scientific 
reason for these inflictions, as were their successors, and 
even as late as the seventeenth century we find Moffett as 
puzzled over it as are a certain class of people to-day over 
the use of the mosquito to man, he and they beheving that 
every Hving thing was created specially and wholly for the 
benefit of the genus homo. 

After searching long for some good use in the sting of 
the bee Moffett was reduced to the following statement : 

"The Ancients (that we may prove the sting of bees 
to be converted to some good use) were wont to punish 
cheaters with them on this manner : They stripped the 
malefactor stark naked, and besmeared his body all over 
with honey, which done, and his hands and feet being 
bound, they exposed him to the heat of the scorching sun, 
that what with the piercing raies beating upon his body, 
what with the stinging of the bees and flies, and their often 
stabbing and wounding him, he did at length suffer a death 
answerable to his life. But if you would indeed resolve to 
go sting-free, or at least heal yourself being stung ; expel out 
of your minde, idleness, impiety, theft, malice ; for those 
that are defil'd with those vices, they set upon to chuse as 
it were, and out of natural instinct." 

The Sting 9 1 

According to this pious sentiment a visit to a bee-hive 
would be a simple and final test of character, but one 
which few of us sceptical moderns would have fortitude 
enough to try, no matter how good of heart we might 
know ourselves to be. 

We feel assured that bees discriminate, and while savage 
towards one are friendly towards another. But if theirs 
is a moral standard it is different fi-om ours, for in these 
days they are as prone to attack the most inoffensive of 
the human race — according to our estimation — as they 
are to grant immunity to the greatest rascal. It is to be 
feared that manner of moving, texture of skin, or exhala- 
tions from the body mfluence modern bees more surely 
than goodness or badness of heart. 

Other uses of bee stings are recorded, a knowledge of 
which no doubt would have filled the mind of our historian 
with satisfaction. 

We learn from L'Abbe Delia Rocca, who resided at one 
time in the islands of the Grecian Archipelago, that : 
"A small corsair, equipped with forty or fifty men, and 
having on board some bees, purposely taken from a 
neighboring island, and confined in earthen hives, was pur- 
sued by a Turkish galley. As the latter boarded her, the 
sailors threw the hives from the masts down into the galley. 
The earthen hives broke into fragments and the bees dis- 
persed all over the boat. The Turks, who had looked on 
the small corsair with contempt, as an easy prey, did not 
expect so singular an attack. Finding themselves defence- 
less against the stings, they were so frightened, that the 
men of the corsair, who had provided themselves with 
masks and gloves, took possession of the galley, almost 
without resistance." 

And again : — 

" Amurat, Emperor of Turkey, having besieged Alba [in 

92 The Honey-Makers 

Greece] and made a breach in the walls, found the breach 
defended by bees, whose hives had been brought on the 
ruins. The Janissaries, the bravest militia of the Ottoman 
Empire, refused to clear the obstacle." 

Various strongholds in Germany are reported to have 
borrowed the weapon of the bee in time of need, and these 
mercenaries could always be depended upon to fight — and 
also to conquer. 

Friedrich tells a story of a man who in time of war made 
his bees protect him from plunderers. 

He had before his door six bee-hives, to each of which 
he fastened a string, taking the other end to his room. As 
soon as he saw soldiers approaching he pulled the strings 
until the hives were thoroughly shaken up, whereupon the 
angry bees fell upon the intruders in such numbers tliat 
they at once took to flight. 

'•' Sesser tells us that in 1525, during the confusion occa- 
sioned by a time of war, a mob of peasants assembling in 
Hohnstein (in Thuringia) attempted to pillage the house 
of the minister of Elende ; who having in vain employed 
all his eloquence to dissuade them from their design, 
ordered his domestics to fetch his bee-hives, and throw 
them in the middle of this furious mob. The effect was 
what might be expected ; they were immediately put to 
flight, and happy if they escaped unstung." 

"Olearius relates in the description of his celebrated 
Travels in Persia that his whole travelling escort was once 
driven out of a Russian village by a swarm of bees. The 
peasants themselves had excited the bees to this to be rid 
of their unwelcome guests, and they often used this device 
upon similar occasions." 

'^Pigneron relates that the Spaniards experienced the 
fury of the bees at the siege of Tanly. When they were 
preparing to make the assault, the besieged placed a num- 

The Sting 93 

ber of hives in the breaches, which attacked the besiegers 
so furiously that they were obhged to retire." 

Sometimes the bees fell upon people on their own 
account instead of taking part in human warfare, and 
Menzel tells us that whole cities were attacked by bees and 
the inhabitants driven forth and armies put to rout as is 
often related by the ancients, and that Bochart has gathered 
together these incidents in his Hierozoikon, to which the 
curious reader is referred. Only it must not be overlooked, 
that the Cretan bees, living on Mt. Ida, and no doubt 
descendants of the sacred bees of Zeus, according to 
Antenor, long retained their fierce disposition and fell 
upon and stung every one who came that way. 

" The bees which are called Chalcoides, which are of the 
color of brass, and somewhat long, which are said to live 
in the Island of Crete, are implacable, great fighters and 
quarrellers, excelling all others in their stings, and more 
cruel than any others, so that with their stings they have 
chased the Inhabitants out of their cities." 

According to Kohl there is a rock on the Black Sea 
whose clefts are so well defended by their armed inhabi- 
tants that no one is able to approach, and Menzel quotes 
Herodotus as saying that the bees would allow no one to 
cross the Danube at a certain point. 

There are also tales of a district in California where 
exceeding fierce bees have taken possession of certain 
caverns and allow no one to approach within a considerable 

During his travels in Africa Mungo Park in May, 1805, 
came near being wholly undone by the bees which the 
people of his guide Isaaco had infuriated. 

Park says : — 

"On the 26th, when the party had come up to a place 
called Bee Creek, a curious accident befell them. Some of 

94 The Honey-Makers 

Isaaco's people, being in search of honey, disturbed a large 
swarm of bees, which attacked the men and beasts of the 
company with such violence as to send them flying in every 
direction for safety. The severity of this assault may be 
conceived from the fact, that six asses and one horse were 
lost — two, if not three, of the asses being literally stung to 
death, and the other animals being never recovered after 
their dispersion. Many of the people were seriously stung 
about the face and hands." 

Sometimes bees war with each other, two swarms taking 
a fancy to the same hive, or one swarm attacking another 
in order to steal its honey. These battles are at times ter- 
rific, lasting several hours or even days, the slain strewing 
the field of battle in great numbers. 

In itself the sting of a bee is a small enough object, and 
does mischief out of all proportion to its size or appearance. 
It would seem as though the anger of the bee was some- 
how conveyed to that organ and not only was the offender 
pierced by a pointed instrument but also by the bursting 
rage, rancor and hatred that at the moment possesses the 
litde termagant. And this in a sense is true, for in a sac 
oblong, white in appearance, and not much larger than a 
pin head is stored up a vile fluid composed largely of 
formic acid, and an organic poisonous principle. This sac 
communicates with the hollow sting, and into the wound 
made by that weapon the acrid poison is viciously pumped. 
The sting is located at the extremity of the abdomen, 
and the bee's abdomen, like that of 
other insects, is, as we know, com- 
posed of horny rings, each ring 
made of several parts. These rings 
are joined to each other by flexible membranes, and fit 
together so that they may be drawn out and retracted some- 
thing like the parts of a telescope. 

The Sting 


It is this many-jointed abdomen with its flexibility, allow- 
ing movement in every direction, that makes the sting 
such an exceedingly effective 
weapon, the bee being able to 
twist its abdomen about and 
plunge its convenient dagger 
where it pleases. 

Hidden within the hinder- 
most rings of the abdomen is 
the sting, which is not at all 
what it seems, for it appears 
to the naked eye as a smooth, 
slightly curved needle point, 
while in reality it is a complex 
and cruel weapon armed with 
lances and conveying a virulent poison. 

When the bee desires to inflict a sting the spot is first 
investigated by a pair of delicate feelers {F) placed just 
behind the sting and pretty enough, one would think, to 

be put to a pleasanter use. 
These little feelers work with 
lightning- hke rapidity, and 
when a spot has been selected 
the sting {S) is thrust home, all 
in the twinkling of an eye. 

The sting, like the bee's 
tongue, is not a simple tube, 
but is composed of several 
parts. With a good deal of 
care these parts can be sepa- 
rated and there is found to be 
an inner sheath bearing a 
groove along its under side, and into this groove are ac- 
curately fitted two lances. The sheath is large at the top 

96 The Honey-Makers 

where it widens into an oblong hollow pouch A, and it has 
two rows of microscopic backward-pointing teeth at its tip, 
although but one row can be seen at a time. The two 
lances are very slender, very sharp, and lie side by side in 
the groove on the under side of the sheath, fitting closely 
in their place. These lances can be pulled out of the 
groove as has been done at L, L. As they are hollow 
within, they and the sheath together form a tube. They 
are not stationary, however, but play up and down. 

In order to prevent the lances from slipping out of place 
each is grooved along its outer edge, the grooves slid- 
ing over a corresponding projection that runs along either 
side of the sheath. Thus the lances ride up and down 
in the sheath, held safely in place no matter how quickly 
or violently they may move. 

Each lance is viciously barbed at its point with ten stout 
hook-like projections that point backwards like the barbs 
on a fish-hook. 

The poison-sac opens into the pouch A and on each 

lance where it lies in this pouch is a curiously constructed 

valve (X) which acts like the piston in a pump and 

pushes the poison through the tube in the sting as 

the lances are thrust down. 

The poison is supplied by a long, slender white 
gland which at length branches into two and lies 
coiled up like a white thread in the abdomen, ending 
near the stomach in flattened knobs and opening be- 
low into the poison-sac. 

When the bee stings, the end of the sheath is first 
driven into the skin and held fast by the barbs at 
the end. It now acts as a guiding rail as one after 
the other the lances are forced down, at each thrust going 
deeper into the victim. The poison escapes from the in- 
terior tube through openings on the lower barbs of the 

The Sting 97 

The wound inflicted by the sting of the honey-bee is 
very minute, being not more than one twelfth or one fif- 
teenth of an inch deep and only one five hundredtli of an 
inch in diameter. So far as the mere puncture is con- 
cerned it does no more harm than a prick from the finest 
cambric needle, but when into these little wounds the sting- 
ing poison is pumped that is another story. As soon as the 
sting enters, the poison is pressed out of the poison-sac by 
muscles provided for the purpose, and ejected into the 
wound with spirit and precision. 

The method of working the lances is very ingenious, 
three horny plates on either side, K, B, Z, acting as levers 
to move the long curved rods V, A, S. 
The sheath separates at A, A, one half 
curving to the right, the other to the 
left, the dark line bordering the inner 
edge of the curve on either side rep- 
resenting the guiding rails in which 
the lances ride, for the lances also 
curve away from each other at ^, A, 
following the divisions of the sheatli. 
The lances reach beyond the sheath, 
and at Fon either side are articulated 
to the horny plate B^ which in turn 
is articulated to the plate Z. 

These plates act as levers and when they raise the point 
Fthe tip of the lance is lowered; when they depress the 
point Fthe tip is raised. 

The plate K attached to the upper termination of the 
sheath acts in a similar manner, lowering and raising the 
tip of the sheath. 

Muscles attach the plates B, K, Z, to the inner side of 
the abdominal walls and by contraction move them, when, 
35 has been described, they act as levers upon the long 


The Honey-Makers 

curved rods, moving sting and sheath up and down inde- 
pendently of each other. 

In the iUustration on page 97 the sting is entirely with- 
drawn ; in the following one it is forced out to its full extent, 

and it will be noticed that the left-hand lance is a little the 

The foregoing illustrations are taken from a sting, the 
upper parts of which have been flattened out somewhat, in 
order to get an unobstructed view of the working appara- 
tus ; in nature the two sides of the sting are folded towards 
each other so that the plates Z, Z, for instance, are more 
nearly parallel instead of, as in the picture, standing on the 
same plane. 

A side view of the sting in its natural position in the bee 
makes the working of the mechanism clearer. 

Bee-poison expresses the concentrated anger of the bee, 
and to that is generally added more or less anger of our 
own, which probably assists the action of the other. 

The Sting 99 

Bee-poison, composed largely of formic acid and an 
organic poison, is a most harmless-looking, colorless liquid, 
which may be seen hanging to the sting of an angry bee 
like a sweet and pearly dew-drop. But be not deceived, 

Side view of the sting. 

it is no dew-drop, but the very essence of wrath, a most 
active and virulent poison, more pervading even than the 
venom of the serpent or the poison of hydrophobia, for 
those may be taken into the stomach with impunity, while 
this is as vicious there as when received into the blood 
through the skin. 

When the poison is placed upon the tongue there is a 

loo The Honey-Makers 

slight burning sensation, quickly followed by an agonizing, 
acrid, metallic taste and a sharp stinging impression. 

Curiosity may tempt many to taste bee-poison once, but 
few will voluntarily repeat the experiment. It can be 
quickly washed from the tongue with cold water and should 
not be swallowed as it may give rise, even in this small 
quantity, to very grievous sensations ! 

Bees show a diabolical aptitude for selecting sensitive 
parts, and Butler says : — 

" When they are angr)'-, their aim is most commonly at 
the head, and chiefly about the eyes, as knowing that there 
they may do most harm, for that part swelleth most and 
longest ; and yet I never heard that any ever stung the very 
eye : as if they were forbidden to touch that tender part." 

Bee-keepers occasionally get a jet of poison in the eye, 
however, it being thrown out by an angry bee ; the feel- 
ings of the victim upon such occasions may be left to the 

When one is stung, the part swells and burns, and if the 
sting is about the face the head aches considerably for awhile. 

But on the whole it is soon over with most people, 
though some are so sensitive to this particular poison that 
even one sting is dangerous to them. 

Cicero considers inabihty to endure a bee-sting a mark 
of very great effeminacy, as he tells us in " The Tusculan 
Questions " : — 

'' We, if the toe pain us, or the tooth, if a stitch is felt 
in the body, are unable to bear it ; for there is a certain 
effeminate and light opinion in currency, not more in 
regard to pain than to pleasure, which, when it has melted 
us, and we flow with softness, we cannot withstand the 
sting of a bee without exclamation." 

Bee-poison seems to be derived, by some strange alchem- 
ical process, from the nectar and pollen of flowers, and 

The Sting loi 

bee-stings are most virulent in the summertime when the 
honey-flow is at its height ; while in the winter they are 
comparatively harmless. 

The ancients did not know what to do for bee-stings. 
Pliny frankly admitted that he knew of no remedy, and 
we of to-day are little better off, as apphcation proves most 
of the remedies recommended to be useless or worse than 

Butler's advice is doubtless as good as any : — 

" When you are stung, instantly wipe out the bee, sting 
and all, and wash the place with your spittle ; so shall you 
prevent both pain and swelling, which otherwise nothing 
but time can cure : for the poison is so subtle that it 
quickly penetrateth the flesh and the wound so small that 
no antidote can follow after." 

Probably cold water very gently applied is as good as 
anything, for this reduces the inflammation, and very likely 
the use of mud so commonly recommended for stings is 
valuable because when once put on it precludes rubbing or 
other irritation and cools the inflamed part. 

Above all things the wound should not be rubbed. 

But first of all the sting should be taken out. For the 
pity of it is that the poor passion-blinded little morsel jabs 
it in and as a rule cannot get it out again ! 

Those numerous barbs hold too well. 

In her fright, assisted by an agonized brush from your 
hand, she tears loose — and goes off minus her sting, help- 
less and wounded, for she leaves both sting and poison- 
sac behind her. 

It is said that if one is patient and strong-minded he 
will stand perfectly still and let her work it out again, walk- 
ing around and around the wound as a man twists a cork- 
screw out of a cork, and that then she will not lose it, and 
the sting wiU not hurt as much as when it is left in. 

I02 The Honey-Makers 

But few of us are self-controlled enough for that — and 
moreover what guarantee have we that she would not, find- 
ing herself free, angry and still potent, turn about and 
reward our forbearance with another stab? We prefer her 
death to our own pain, so we hasten her movements and 
shorten her life. 

For the wages of anger in this case are death. Deprived 
of her sting and poison-sac and incidentally torn and 
wounded internally she soon dies — a sadder and a wiser 
bee — but as is often the case with those who learn wisdom 
by experience, acquiring that valuable attribute too late to 
profit by it. 

When she thus leaves her sting as a legacy in the wound 
the poison continues to be forced out by the involuntary 
action of the muscles surrounding the poison-sac and of 
those driving the sting, which is the reason the sting should 
be extracted at once, a matter very easily accomplished. 

The sting should not be grasped between the fingers, as 
this squeezes the poison out of the sac into the v/ound, but 
it should be brushed or scraped out in a direction opposite 
to that in which it entered, or lifted out by inserting the 
blade of a knife or the finger-nail beneath it, as one with- 
draws a tack. 

The ancients knew the fatal consequences to the bee of 
using the sting, and Aristotle says: — 

" When they have stung anything they perish, for they 
cannot withdraw their sting from the wound without 
tearing their own entrails ; but they are frequently saved, 
if the person stung will take care to press the sting from 
the wound ; but when its sting is lost, the bee must perish." 

And Pliny gives us the following : — 

" Nature has provided bees with a sting, which is in- 
serted in the abdomen of the insect. There are some 
who think that at the first blow which they inflict with this 

The Sting 103 

weapon they will instantly die ; while others, again, are of 
opinion that such is not the case, unless the animal drives 
it so deep as to cause a portion of the intestines to follow ; 
and they assert, also, that after they have thus lost their 
sting they become drones, and make no honey." 

It is true, oh, ancient and respected naturalist, that, hav- 
ing lost its sting, our bee makes no more honey, but that it 
thereby becomes a drone is too much for a scientific age 
to credit. 

Bees appear to be ever conscious of their stings. They 
never forget to use them, no matter how frightened they 
are or how suddenly attacked. 

If a bee dehberates, it stings ; if it loses presence of 
mind, it stings ; if it happens to think of it without any 
provocation at all, it stings. 

Their reputation in olden time was as bad as it is to-day, 
and Virgil says of them, — 

'' They are wrathful above measure, and when provoked 
breathe venom into their stings and leave their hidden 
darts fixed in the veins and lay down their lives in the 

While Seneca feelingly remarks, — 

" Bees are the most angriest and fellest creatures that be, 
according to the capacitie of their bodies, and leave their 
stings in the wound." 

It is only fair to say that bees differ in disposition, and 
that while some varieties are extremely " handy with their 
weapons," and not at all slow to anger, other kinds are 
much less easily provoked. 

The Italian bee has an enviable reputation for temper, 
though occasionally a hive of Italians is ugly enough, and 
one would do well to think twice before going too near, 
and then not go. 

Concerning the dispositions of bees, Moffett says : — 

104 The Honey-Makers 

" Bees, even by nature, are much different : for some are 
most domestical and tame, and other again are altogether 
wilde, uplandish and agrestial. Those former are much de- 
lighted with the familiar friendship, custom and company 
of men, but these can in no wise brook or endure them, 
but rather keep their trade of Honey-making in old trees, 
caves, holes, and in the ruders and rubbish of old walls and 

Doubtless, Columella was right where, speaking of differ- 
ent kinds of bees, he says : — 

" But, nevertheless, the angry disposition of bees of a 
better character is easily mitigated and softened by the 
continual intervention of those who take care of the bee- 
hives ; for they grow quickly tame when they are often 

One going among bees should be slow and deliberate, 
making no quick motion ; and there is no doubt that bees 
tolerate some people and will not be approached by others. 
It has been suggested that the emanations of the body are 
the cause of their dislike, which the following story told by 
Bevan would seem to prove. 

" M. de Hofer, Conseilleur d'Etat du Grand Due de 
Baden, had for years Ijeen a proprietor and admirer 
of bees and rivalled Wildman in the power he possessed 
of approaching them with impunity. He would at 
any time search for the queen, and taking hold of her 
gently, place her on his hand. But he was unfortunately 
attacked with a violent fever and long confined by it. On 
his recovery, he attempted to resume his favorite amuse- 
ment among the bees, returning to them with all that 
confidence and pleasure which he had felt on former 
occasions ; when, to his great surprise and disappointment, 
he discovered that he was no longer in possession of their 
favor ; and that instead of being received by them as an 

The Sting 105 

old friend, he was treated as a trespasser ; nor was he ever 
able after this period to perform any operation with them, 
or to approach their precincts, without exciting their anger. 
Here then it is pretty evident that some change had taken 
place in the Counsellor's secretions in consequence of the 
fever, which, though not noticeable by his friends, was 
offensive to the olfactory nerves of the bees." 

There is no mistaking a bee's intentions when it has 
made up its mind to sting. 

It leaves the even tenor of its way, flies straight at you, 
buzzes angrily about your head for a moment, and then 
grips you. It clings fast with its feet in a most disagreeable 
and suggestive manner, and if you succeed in brushing it off 
before it stings, it is immediately felt in another place, and 
before you can strike it there in all probability it has struck 
you, and you dash it away ; and if you are wise instantly 
follow the advice of Butler, which, though given in 1609, 
is still timely : — 

" When you are stung, or any in the company, yea, 
though a bee have stricken but your clothes, especially in 
hot weather, you were best be packing as fast as you can : 
for the other bees smelling the rank savor of the poison cast 
out with the sting, will come about you as thick as hail." 

And further he adds : — 

" Then is there no way to appease them but flight : the 
more you resist, the fiercer they are. They are like unto 
incorrigible shrews : there is no dealing with them but by 
patience, though when they sting they are sure to have the 
worst. For the wound endangereth neither life nor limb : 
two nights' sleep will take away the swelling, and two min- 
utes the pain, unless it be in very rheumatic bodies : of 
which sort I have known some so swollen and disfigured 
with that little stroke that you could scarce know them by 
their favour in five or six days after." 

io6 The Honey-Makers 

Individual bees differ as much as colonies in the quality 
of their temper, and while one may be altogether " ram- 
bunctious " others from the same hive may not be so at all. 

When one entertains bees on the window-pane there is 
good opportunity to observe the readiness with which they 
resent a fancied menace. 

Of all bees honey-bees seem the most irascible. Touch 
one and quick as a flash out comes its sting. 

They even gather bees they meet on their prison pane in 
a deadly embrace, the two strangers locking arms, so to 
speak, and politely driving at each other with their stings. 
But when this little neighborly greeting has been exchanged, 
if one does not succeed in piercing the other they frequently 
part friends, like men after a duel, one feeding the other in 
the most hospitable manner. 

All the wickedness in a bee seems to be concentrated in 
its sting end ; its heart may be good, but its sting is utterly 
bad and will fulfil its vengeful desires even when separated 
from the bee. 

If a sting which has been newly extracted, either by the 
bee itself in a destructive paroxysm of anger, or by the 
operator after her ladyship the bee has been duly and mer- 
cifully chloroformed, be placed upon the finger, a very 
curious result follows. 

Watching the organ through a magnifying lens one is 
interested in the involuntary muscular movements, but 
presently a very suggestive prick calls attention to the 
pointed end, and lo ! this isolated sting is at work upon its 
own account. It has managed to insert the barbs into your 
skin and, with all its powers rallied for one last act of 
requital, is driving the weapon home! 

This is amusing until you undertake to extract the venom- 
ous atom in time to avoid the poisoning scene in the last 
act, when you find the barbs have done their work also, and 

The Sting 107 

before you can get free you have received a copiously pois- 
oned sting, as fine a one as ever was administered by a 
living bee. 

There is something almost uncanny in the way this un- 
connected thing moves about and wreaks its vengeance. 

It "continues on life," as the "Arabian Nights " would 
say, apparently for the sole purpose of hurting somebody. 

It will not attempt to enter a hard object, but the 
touch of your finger seems to arouse its old passion, and 
rallying its dying forces it " gives it to you " once again. 

These " posthumous works of the bee," as they have 
been called, surpass all other posthumous works in the 
vividness of impressions they create. 

While bee-poison is volatile and easily soluble in water, 
it is preserved by honey, and one occasionally has the 
unique, if not pleasant experience of a sting in the mouth 
from having partaken of honey in which a bee had been 
accidentally incarcerated and its sting left behind. 

In spite of her very effective weapon, the skilful bee- 
keeper can handle my lady, the bee, bare handed and with 
perfect safety, human intelligence having circumvented the 
wise little bee, no doubt persuading her it is for her own good 
that man manipulates her hives and carries off her honey. 

Who can blame the bees for using their weapons when 
occasion requires? No other insect has such treasure to 
defend, no other possesses a hoard of sweets so abundant 
and so greatly desired by other creatures. Their stings 
are their one means of self-defence, and no wonder they 
understand and profit by them. 

While an occasional bee-sting is a matter of no conse- 
quence to most people, to be stung many times at once 
may be a very serious affair. 

Thorley tells an affecting tale of a man who undertook 
to remove a swarm of bees from a tree. 

io8 The Honey-Makers 

He climbed to the hole, swept the bees out with a brush 
of weeds, and stopped up the hole so they could not return. 

"This done," continues ThorJey, "down became sur- 
rounded with the enemy, resolved to revenge so great an 
injury, though with the loss of their lives. They fell upon 
him with the greatest fury imaginable, indeed affecting to 
behold, but I durst not offer him any assistance or relief. 
They charged him in flank, front and rear ; clung to him, 
like ivy to the tree ; got under his covering, into his hair, 
and under his clothes ; and stung him from head to foot : 
he in like manner defended himself to the utmost of his 
power, fighting gallantly and slaying without mercy ; but 
having no second, suffered extremely. 

" It was a considerable time before the battle was ended, 
and he had entirely disengaged himself, at which time I 
suffered him to come to me, when hundreds of stings stuck 
in his hat, mittens, etc., besides a considerable number left 
in his body, the poison of which presently inflamed his 
blood and threw him into a violent fever which threatened 
his life. To bed he went ; the fever increasing, his life 
hung in suspense for at least two entire days. Toward the 
close of the third day it began to abate ; and being a man 
of a strong and vigorous constitution he recovered, and in 
a few days more was perfectly well, to the great joy of his 
family, and other friends." 

Thorley believed that about a third of the bees were 
destroyed in this engagement. 

There are many cases on record of people being stung 
to death, and Aristode and Pliny mention that animals as 
large as horses have been known to be set upon and 
killed by bees. 

Mules are apt to suffer greatly from bees, being of a 
natural disposition which forbids them to run when set 
upon. When stung by a bee a mule kicks, and if it chances 

The Sting 109 

to kick over a hive every bee in it is eager to give the mule 
a touching proof of its feelings towards the destroyer of 

It once happened that a hapless donkey kicked over a 
whole apiary when it soon swelled to proportions never 
attained by a donkey in an equal length of time under 
any other circumstances, and perished on the spot. 

The best remedy when attacked by a number of bees 
is to go into the house, as bees will seldom follow one 

Too much bee-poison may prove as fatal as any other 
poison, to say nothing of the frightful nervous excitement 
caused by such a terrible event. 

While many stings received at one time may be the 
cause of great suffering, or even loss of life, it is well known 
that a few stings received at intervals give most people 
immunity from the poison, and that one who handles bees 
and has been stung a number of times sometimes comes 
to mind it little more than a mosquito bite. 

One bee-keeper is said to have advised his pupils to 
allow themselves to be stung ! 

Just how many inoculations are necessary to the produc- 
tion of this convenient immunity is not stated, and whether 
a " virus " of bee-poison can be made for common use 
remains to be seen. 

There is a story current of a noted bee-keeper who being 
ornamented with a bald head, a most inconvenient blessing 
for a bee-keeper, one should suppose, in the height of the 
fray when many swarms had to be hived and handled in a 
limited time, was seen going placidly about with the top 
of his head plentifully adorned with bee stings, he not 
having troubled himself even to remove them ! 

As prevention is better than cure — particularly in the 
case of bee-stings — those needing to handle bees some- 

I I o The Honey-Makers 

times cover their hands with certain aromatic substances, 
one of the most popular of which is oil of wintergreen ; 
when for some reason best known to themselves the irate 
little insects discovering the foreign substance with their 
sensitive feelers decline to add their own aroma to it. 

But better even than wintergreen oil is the advice given 
by Butler : — 

" If thou wilt have the favor of thy bees, that they sting 
thee not, thou must avoid such things as offend them : 
thou must not be unchaste or uncleanly ; for impurity and 
sluttiness (themselves being most chaste and neat) they 
utterly abhor ; thou must not come among them smelling 
of sweat, or having a stinking breath, caused either through 
eating of leeks, onions, garlick, and the like, or by any 
other means, the noisesomeness whereof is corrected by a 
cup of beer ; thou must not be given to surfeiting or 
drunkenness ; thou must not come puffing or blowing unto 
them, neither hastily stir among them, nor resolutely defend 
thyself when they seem to threaten thee ; but softly mov- 
ing thy hand before thy face, gently put them by ; and 
lastly, thou must be no stranger unto them. In a word, 
thou must be chaste, cleanly, sweet, sober, quiet, and 
familiar ; so will they love thee, and know thee from all 
others. When nothing hath angered them, one may safely 
walk along by them ; but if he stand still before them in 
the heat of the day, it is a marvel but one or other spying 
him, will have a cast at him." 

The advantage of following the above advice is that 
whether it has the desired effect upon the bees or not, it 
cannot fail, in most parts, to be of benefit to the one who 
practises it. 

Further, Cotton thus quaintly and kindly advises us con- 
cerning the handling of bees : — 

" If you want to do anything to a single bee, catch him 

The Sting 1 1 1 

'as if you loved him,' between your finger and tliumb, 
wliere the tail joins on to the body, and he cannot hurt 

If you want to do anything to your whole hive of bees, 
however, it is impossible to follow Cotton's advice, and 
instead you would do well to wear a bee hat, which has a 
broad brim and a veil fitting over the shoulders. 

And unless your bees love you as well as you them, it 
would be well to put on gloves and tie them over the ends 
of your sleeves above the wrists. 

Although bee-poison produces such an unpleasant effect 
upon healthy people it is known to possess valuable medi- 
cinal properties, and in an early number of the " Bienenzei- 
tung " we read of a man who discovered a use for bee-stings 
that would have delighted Moffett and his predecessors, 
who were so puzzled to find a good use for these weapons. 
The man in question had rheumatism, and while handling 
his bees was stung upon the rheumatic member, when, 
greatly to his surprise, all traces of rheumatism disappeared. 
Profiting by his discovery he repaired to the apiary upon 
the next appearance of the disease and induced his bees 
to sting him into health again. 

Others have testified to a similar experience, and more- 
over bee-poison has a recognized place in medicine, being 
used in diphtheria, eye diseases, hydrocephalus in young 
children, erysipelas, cholera, certain fevers, and other 

Constantine Hering says : — 

'■'■ Among all our drugs this is the one of which we have 
the most preparations. There is but one right kind. It is 
the pure poison, which is obtained by grasping the bee 
with a small forceps, and catching the minute drop of 
virus suspended from the point of the sting, in a vial or 
watch crystal." 

I I 2 The Honey-Makers 

From the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia we get the 

following : — 

" Draw out the sting together with the poison-bag from 
bees freshly killed. Taking hold of the bag, insert the 
point of the sting into a small glass tube and squeeze the 
poison into it. Or take a live bee with a pair of pincers 
and allow it to take hold of a small lump of sugar. It will 
immediately sting into the sugar which will absorb the 
poison. Repeat this process until enough is accumulated 
to start a trituration." 

Sometimes whole bees are used ; in which case, the " live 
bees, put into a bottle, are irritated by shaking, and then 
drenched with five times their weight of dilute alcohol, and 
allowed to remain eight days, being shaken twice a day. 
The tincture is then poured off, strained, and filtered." 

Sometimes the bee-keeper is requested to supply bee- 
stings, instead of bees or honey, not for the pleasure but 
for the cure of ailing man. 



The Queen 

Each hive has long been known to possess one bee 
different from the others, and which received special care 
and attention from them. 

This the ancients called a king. 

Says PHny : — 

" The kings have always a peculiar form of their own, 
and are double the size of any of the rest ; their wings are 
shorter than those of the others, their legs are straight, 
their walk more upright, and they have a white spot on 
the forehead, which bears some resemblance to a diadem : 
they differ, too, very much from the rest of the community, 
in their bright and shining appearance. 

" The obedience which his subjects manifest in his 
presence is quite surprising. When he goes forth, the 
whole swarm attends him, throngs about him, surrounds 
him, protects him, and will not allow him to be seen. At 
other times, when the swarm is at work within, the king 
is seen to visit the works, and appears to be giving his 
encouragement, being himself the only one that is exempt 
from work : around him are certain other bees which act 
as body-guards and hctors, and careful guardians of his 

" When they are on the wing, every one is anxious to be 
near him, and lakes a pleasure in being seen in the per- 
formance of its duty. When he is weary, they support him 


I 14 The Honey-Makers 

on tlieir shoulders ; and when he is quite tired, they carry 
him outright." 

Even as late as the time of Shakespeare the monarchical 
character of life in the hive was a matter of faith as we 
learn from " Henry V.," where the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, in talking to the king, uses the bees in illustration, — 

" For so work the honey-bees, 
Creatures that by a rule in nature teach 
The act of order to a peopled kingdom : 
They have a king, and officers of sorts ; 
Where some, like magistrates, correct at home. 
Others, like merchants, venture trade abroad, 
Others, like soldiers, armed in their stings, 
Make boot upon the summer's velvet buds; 
Which pillage they with merry march bring home 
To the tent-royal of their emperor. 
Who, busied in his majesty, surveys 
The singing masons building roofs of gold. 
The civil citizens kneading up the honey. 
The poor mechanic porters crowding in 
Their heavy burdens at his narrow gate, 
The sad-ey'd justice, with his surly hum, 
Delivering o'er to executors pale 
The lazy yawning drone." 

The bee which the old writers called the king is to-day 
called the queen. It is known to be a female, the only 
perfect female in the hive. It is also known that she is 
not a queen. She is a mother, the mother of all the 

The great mass of bees are the workers, which are im- 
perfect — that is, undeveloped — females, unable as a rule 
to produce eggs. 

The drones, comparatively few in number, are males. 

The sex of the worker-bees, which are the ones we see 
flying about, is now well-known ; but in poetry and htera- 
ture the conventional masculine pronoun is always appUed 

The Family 1 1 5 

to them, as, for instance, in Gay's " Rural Sports " we 

read, — 

"The careful insect midst his works I view, 
Now from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew, 
"With golden treasures load his little thighs, 
And steer his distant journey through the skies." 

Butler in 1609 knew the sex of the so-called king and 
says : — 

" Aristotle entreating of the breeding of bees professeth 
himself uncertain of their sex : and therefore, (willing, in 
this uncertainty, to grace so worthy a creature with the 
worthier title) he everywhere calleth their governor, Rex. 
As many as followed him, (searching no further than he 
did) were content to say as he said. So that I am en- 
forced (unless I will choose rather to offend in rebus, than 
in vocibns) by their leave and thine (learned Reader) to 
strain the ordinary signification of the word Rex ; and, in 
such places, to translate it Queen : since the males here 
bear no sway at all ; this being an Amazonian or Feminine 

It is true that Aristode was puzzled about the sex of 
bees, and that it was nearly two thousand years after 
his time before the matter was indisputably settled, and 
yet in his " History of Animals " we read this very re- 
markable statement. Speaking of the " kings," or " rulers," 
he says : " By some they are called the mother-bees, as if 
they were the parents of 'the rest ; and they argue that 
unless the ruler is present, drones only are produced, and 
no bees. Others affirm that drones are males, and the 
bees females." 

Thus in Aristode's time was guessed the truth that the 
scientists of another age were to demonstrate. 

Young bees are produced from eggs laid by the so-called 
queen, — a fact not known to the ancients, who had various 

ii6 The Honey-Makers 

theories concerning the origin of bees, the most popular of 
which we will let Aristotle state. 

" All persons are not agreed as to the generation of bees, 
for some say that they collect them from the flowers of the 
honeysuckle, and others from the flowers of the calamus. 
Others again say that they are found in the flowers of the 
olive, and produce this proof, that the swarms are most 
abundant when the olives are fertile. Other persons afiirm 
that they collect the young of the drones from any of the 
substances we have named, but that the rulers produce the 
young of the bees." 

Virgil has the bees gather their young from leaves. 

" Chiefly will you marvel at this custom peculiar to 
bees, — they themselves cull their progeny with their mouths 
from leaves and fragrant herbs ; they themselves raise up a 
new king and little subjects, and build new palaces and 
waxen realms." 

The pretty fancy that the bees gathered their young from 
flowers and leaves lingered for centuries, opposed, as we 
know, by the less pleasing theory that bees were bred 
spontaneously from carcasses. 

Moffett in his " Theatre of Insects " gives us the seven- 
teenth-century idea on the subject, from which we learn that 
some at least, still believed in the theory of the carcass, which 
had not suffered for want of elaboration as time passed. 

" Forasmuch as Philosophers have given out that bees 
(for the first sin of mankinde, are begotten of putrefaction ; 
there are not wanting those that deny they were created in 
the first week of the world. 

" Of the first generation of Bees Aristotle hath a long dis- 
course. The Pliilosophers following him have rightly deter- 
mined in my opinion, that their generation doth proceed 
from the corruption of some other body : as of a Bull, Oxe, 
Cow, Calf, very excellent and profitable beasts : the which 

The Family 1 1 7 

not only worthy men and without all exception do report ; 
but even rustical and common experience doth confirm. 
They say that out of the brains of these beasts are bred the 
Kings and Nobility, and of their flesh the common sort of 
ordinary Bees. There are likewise kings that are bred out 
of the marrow of the chine-bone, but then those that come 
of the brains do far excell the other in feature or comli- 
nesse, in largenesse, in prudence, and in strength of body." 
Shakespeare alludes to the common superstition of the 
origin of bees from dead matter in " Henry IV." The king 
is railing against the prince, when Warwick defends him, 
saying he will in time forsake his evil companions, to which 
the king replies, — 

" 'T is seldom when the bee doth leave her comb 
In the dead carrion." 

The modern queen-bee certainly has no spot, like a 
diadem, glittering on her brow, as Pliny relates, but she is 
fairly entided to the pleasant praise of Butler, who informs 
us, — 

"The queen is a fair and stately bee, differing from the 
vulgar both in shape and color : her back is all over of a 
bright brown ; her belly, even from the top of 
her fangs to the tip of her train, is of a sad 
yellow, somewhat deeper than the richest gold," 
and the remainder of Butler's description of 
the queen is as accurate and far more pictur- 
esque than can be found in the modern bee- 

" She is longer than a honey bee, by one third 
part, that is, almost an inch long : she is also 
bigger than a honey bee ; but not so big as a drone, 
although somewhat longer : her head proportionable, but 
that is more round than the little bees, by reason her fangs 


I 1 8 The Honey-Makers 

be shorter: her tongue not half so long as theirs: for 
whereas they gather with the one nectar, with the other 
ambrosia; she hath no need to use either, being to be 
maintained, as other princes, by the labor of her subjects : 
her wings of the same size with a small bee's, and therefore 
with respect of lier body long, they seem very short, re- 
sembling rather a cloak than a gown ; for they reach but 
to the middle of her train or nether part : her legs pro- 
portionable, and of the colour of her belly, but her two 
hind legs more yellow ; her nether part so long and half 
so long as her upper part." 

We know that the queen does receive peculiar attention 
from the other members of the hive ; as Langstroth says, — 

" The queen is treated with the greatest respect and affec- 
tion by the bees. A circle of her loving offspring often sur- 
round her, testifying in various ways their dutiful regard : 
some gently embracing her with their antennae, others offer- 
ing her food from time to time, and all of them politely 
backing out of her way, to give her a clear path when she 
moves over the combs." 

So strong is the feeling of the workers for the queen 
that if for any reason she is removed, the whole hive is 
filled with consternation and dismay, and speedily falls a 
victim to despair. Her death, when it is too late in the 
season to raise another cjueen, means the final extinction 
of the colony. The bees know that a terrible calamity 
has befallen them, their family is doomed, and they lose 
all heart and all their eagerness to work. 

Huber experimented upon his bees by carefully remov- 
ing their queen, and he tells us, — 

" Bees are not immediately aware of the removal of 
their queen: their labors are uninterrupted; they watch 
over the young, and perform the whole of their ordinary 
occupations. But, in a few hours, agitation ensues, — all 

The Family ^ 1 9 

appears a scene of tumult in the hive. A singular hum- 
ming is heard ; the bees desert their young and rush over 
the surface of the combs with delirious impetuosity. Then 
they discover that their queen is no longer among them. 
But how do they ascertain it? How do the bees on the 
surface of one comb discover that the queen is or is not 
on the next comb? 

" I cannot doubt that the agitation arises from the work- 
ers having lost their queen, for, on restoring her, tranquil- 
lity is instantly regained among them ; and, what is very 
singular, they recognize her — you must interpret this 
expression strictly. Substitution of another queen is not 
attended with the same effect, if she is introduced into the 
hive within the first twelve hours after removal of the reign- 
ing one. Here the agitation continues, and the bees treat 
the stranger just as they do when the presence of their 
own leaves them nothing to desire. They surround, seize, 
and keep her a very long time captive, in an impenetrable 
cluster, and she commonly dies either from hunger or 
privation of air." 

Virgil gives us this pleasant picture of the love of the 
bees for their queen : — 

" Besides, not Egypt's self, nor great Lydia, nor the 
nation of the Parthians, nor Median Hydaspes, are so 
observant of their king. Whilst the king is safe, there is 
one mind among all : when he is dead, they sever their 
allegiance ; they themselves tear to pieces the fabric of 
their honey, and demolish the structure of their combs. 
He is the guardian of their works : him they admire, and 
all encircle him with thick humming, and guard him in a 
numerous body ; often they lift him up on their shoulders, 
expose their bodies in war, and through wounds seek a 
glorious death." 

Although the facts do not sustain this romantic descrip- 

I 20 The Honey- Makers 

tion, there is no doubt that the queen owes her reputation 
for royalty to the pecuhar conduct of the bees about her 
and yet she is in no sense a ruler. She does not issue 
commands nor examine the work done with a view either 
to criticise or to advise, nor does she indulge in royal 

On the contrary, no bee in the hive performs so stupen- 
dous a task as she. 

There may be over a hundred thousand bees hatched 
in one season, and of all these she alone is the mother. 

A good queen will sometimes lay three thousand five 
hundred eggs a day, or nearly double the weight of her 
own body, and continue doing it for several weeks in 

What enables her to perform this apparent miracle? 

Two things, — her advantageous physical start in life, 
for she is the best nourished of all the bees, and the great 
care she receives from the workers. 

She is in reality from the time she begins her maternal 
task little more than an egg-laying machine. 

As she has no responsibility of finding nectar or build- 
ing waxen cells, or even of caring for her own wants, she 
has no use for the highly developed nervous organization 
that distinguishes the worker bees, and we find this mother 
of the hive possessed of a small head, a small brain, and a 
simple understanding. Her antennae contain but two-thirds 
as many sense organs as those of the workers, and her com- 
pound eyes have each somewhat less than five thousand 
facets, while the workers' contain over six thousand. 

Her digestive power is so imperfect that the worker bees 
are obliged to eat and digest the pollen for her, secreting 
a rich nutritious fluid which the queen obtains by putting 
her short tongue into the open mouths of the workers. 

Fed thus upon extremely nutritions and already digested 

The Family I2i 

food, the queen is able to maintain the necessary heat of 
the body and produce an enormous number of eggs. 

We are not surprised to learn that no pollen baskets 
have developed upon her legs, and that her hairs are but 
sHghtly branched. 

If carefully prepared food is necessary to the usefulness 
of the queen as an egg-producer, it is no less necessary to 
her formation in the first place, and she has the best of the 
good things to eat from the time she leaves the egg. 

The worker bees build sheets of honey-comb, which are 
suspended from the top of the hive. As we buy the honey- 
comb to-day in small boxes weighing a pound or two, we 
see only one kind of comb, that in which honey is stored. 
These honey cells are the same as those in which the drone 
eggs are laid, and the young drones reared. The honey- 
comb becomes a cradle for bees or a store-house for honey 
at the will of the bee. But in every hive at the beginning 
of the season there are built combs of cells like the honey 
cells, but one-fifth smaller. 

There are often a great many of these, and they are the 
cradles of the young worker bees. 

Later the bees build a number of large thimble-shaped 
cells, generally on the edges of the comb, and with their 
mouths opening downward. These are queen cells, con- 
cerning which Pliny says, — 

" In the lower part of the hive they construct for their 
future sovereign a palatial abode, spacious and grand, sepa- 
rated from the rest, and surmounted by a sort of dome." 

At the beginning of the season the queen lays fertilized 
eggs in the worker cells. She walks over the combs, puts 
her head into each open cell as she comes to it, as though 
to discover whether it was occupied already or was in fit 
condition to become the cradle of a bee. Satisfied with 
the state of the cell, she deposits in it a tiny oblong shining 

122 The Honey-Makers 

white egg, which is glued to the bottom of the cell by one 
end, the ovipositor of the queen supplying a secretion for 

the purpose. 

Later in the season the workers construct the large 
queen cells into each of which the queen deposits a fer- 
tilized egg in all respects like those laid in the worker cells. 

Meantime the queen deposits unfertilized eggs in cells 
like those of the honey-comb, and these hatch into drones, 
for curiously enough the drone is the product of an unfer- 
tilized egg. If for any reason the queen fails to mate suc- 
cessfully, after a time she begins to lay eggs, but these all 
hatch into drones, — a calamity as great as the loss of the 

In about three days the eggs hatch into legless, maggot- 
like creatures, the larvse, or "worms," as the bee-keepers 
call them, which are now supplied with food by the 

It is the food which makes the difference between the 
queen and the worker bees, notwithstanding Pliny's roman- 
tic statement on the subject : — 

" The king, however, from the earliest moment, is of the 
color of honey, just as though he were made of the choic- 
est flowers, nor has he at any time the form of a grub, but 
from the very first is provided with wings." 

This tribute to royalty is more poetical than true, for the 
"king," like common folk, comes from an egg, and is a 
" grub " like the others, owing his ultimate superiority to his 
superior opportunities for gormandizing, royalty in this 
instance being a product of high feeding. 

Ihe bees feed the queen larva upon a very nutritious 
food called "royal jelly" secreted by them, giving it to her 
m unstinted abundance during the whole period of larva- 

Concerning it Benton says : 

The Family i 23 

" The composition of this food has been the subject of 
much attention and more theorizing. It may be consid- 
ered as pretty certain that during the first three days of 
the life of the larva its food is a secretion from glands 
located in the heads of the adult workers, — a sort of bee 
milk, to which, after the third day, honey is added in the 
case of the worker larvae, and honey and pollen in the case 
of drone larvae. As this weaning proceeds, both worker 
and drone larvae receive pollen, and in constantly increas- 
ing proportions, in place of the secretion. But this rich 
albuminous substance is continued to the queen larvae 
throughout their whole period of feeding." 

This highly nutritious food supplied unsparingly causes 
the queen larva in its roomy cell to develop into the large 
perfect female or queen-bee. 

If the queen of the hive dies or disappears before the 
new queen cells are started, the workers, as soon as they 
have recovered from their agitation at missing her, go to a 
worker cell in which lies a fertihzed egg, or to one in which 
is a worker larva not more than three days old, and enlarge 
it to about the size of the queen cell by breaking away the 
walls of the surrounding cells. 

They carry away the eggs and larvae contained in the 
broken cells, feed the favored infant on " royal jelly," and, 
presto ! the obscure worker is become a queen. 

Schirach proved by experiment that worker eggs could 
be transferred to queen cells and developed into queens, 
by receiving the queen's food. 

Huber repeated Schirach's experiments, and numerous 
bee-keepers and naturalists since that time have verified the 
conclusion they reached, which, naturally enough, was at 
first regarded with scepticism. 

The "royal jelly," with which all the larvae are at first 
fed, is semi-fluid in consistency, and the young bees are 

I 24 The Honey-Makers 

surrounded by it as soon as they hatch ; indeed, they are 
partly suspended in it, probably absorbing it through the 
skin as well as taking it through the mouth. 

The queen larva feeds upon " royal jelly" for about five 
and a half days, while the worker larva receives its less 
nutritious food for only five days, and the drone larva feeds 
for about six days. 

During this time the bee grows from a tiny egg to about 
its full size, increasing from twelve to fifteen hundred times 
its weight, and consuming an amount of food that leaves 
no opportunity for idleness to the nurse-bees that supply 
these ravenous infants. 

During the period of growth the larval bee, in common 
with the larv^ of other insects, finds its skin too small for 
its body and consequently sheds or casts off the uncomfort- 
able covering half-a-dozen times. These cast-off skins are 
so extremely fine and delicate that for ages they escaped 
observation, and until very recent times it was believed the 
bee-larva did not shed its skin. 

Finally, the nurse-bees put a porous cap or cover of wax 
and bee-bread over the cradle cells, and leave the occupants 
to their own devices. 

Evidently they know the difference between the worker- 
bee and the drone, as they put flat caps over the worker 
cells and convex ones over the drones. 

As soon as they are capped over, the imprisoned infants 
proceed to spin a delicate cocoon about the upper part of 
the cell, covering the head and extending partly over the 
body, the silk for it being supplied by certain glands in the 
head, and first appearing in the form of a liquid, which, 
being drawn out through an opening in the lip like thin 
threads of saliva, hardens into a tough, fine silk. The 
glands that yield the silk disappear in the adult queen and 
drone, but in the worker are transformed into the secreting 

The Family 125 

glands by which the larvee and the queen and drones are 
suppHed with food. 

When the cocoon is finished the bee passes into the 
pupa stage, where it undergoes those marvellous transfor- 
mations that change it from a legless, wingless, helpless 
" worm " to a perfect bee with its wonderful sense organs, 
its highly developed nervous system, its gossamer wings, and 
other organs. 

At the end of the pupa stage the bees bite through the 
caps to their cells, and come forth to take their share in the 
outer world. 

The whole period from the laying of the egg to maturity 
in the queen is about fifteen and a half days, in the worker 
twenty-one, while the drone requires twenty-four days to 
complete his metamorphosis. 

When about to come forth the young queen begins to 
"pipe," — a sound that greatly agitates the queen-mother, 
who thus recognizes a rival. 

Only one queen is tolerated in the hive at a time, and 
when a young one hatches the old queen kills it or else the 
bees "swarm;" that is, the old queen departs with the 
greater part of the older bees, leaving her daughter to 
assume the responsibilities of future generations. 

As soon as this daughter finds herself free from her 
cradle cell, her first impulse is to dispose of possible rivals, 
and she deliberately uncaps any remaining queen cells and 
demolishes the innocent occupants by stinging them. 

If two queens come forth at the same time, there is 
trouble indeed, and a duel immediately ensues which ends 
only with the death of one. 

The queen stings only queens, and seeks to penetrate her 
rival between the rings of the abdomen, as the parts there 
are so soft that she can readily withdraw her sting uninjured. 
She may be handled and teased to any extent without being 

126 The Honey-Makers 

provoked to use her weapon, which is as well her ovipositor, 
or egg-laying instrument, and which she will not run the 
risk of losing. It is larger than that of the worker, but is 
straight instead of curved, and but slightly barbed. Her 
poison-sac is small and less developed. 

Aristode knew of the queen's sting and tells us, — " the 
kings and rulers have a sting which they do not make use 
of, and some persons suppose they have none." 

Butler says : — 

" The spear she has is borne rather for show and author- 
ity than for any other use. For it belongeth to her subjects 
as well to fight for her as to provide for her." 

Seneca, on the contrary, informs us that " their king hath 
no sting," and proceeds gravely to give us the reason : 
" Nature would not have him cruel nor to seek revenge 
that might hazard his life, therefore took away his weapon 
and disarmed his wrath." 

He moralizes further : — 

" All kings 8i^d princes ought to consider this excellent 
example." And would have a man's wrath, like a worker- 
bee's, " broken with his own weapon and have no more 
means to hurt than once in his life." 

Virgil's account of a battle in the kingdom of bees is 
more spirited than true, as in reality the bees do not help 
the queen, but stand eager spectators, ready to carry out 
the body of the slain and pay homage to the victor. 

" A voice is heard resembling the broken sounds of trum- 
pets. Then in a hurry they assemble, quiver with their 
wings, sharpen their stings upon their beaks, prepare their 
sinews, crowd thick around their king and to his pavilion, 
and with loud hummings challenge the foe." 

" The kings themselves, amidst the hosts, distinguished by 
their wings, exert mighty souls in little bodies, obstinately 
determined not to yield till the dread victor has compelled 
either these or those to turn their backs in flight." 

The Family i 27 

The young queen, having estabhshed her right by battle, 
flies abroad and high in the air, mates, receiving from the 
drone a supply of fertilizing material which is stored in a 
small pouch designed for the purpose and the contents of 
which she is apparently able to use at will, fertilizing some 
eggs and leaving others unfertilized. 

Browning, in his poem entitled " Popularity," refers to 
the flight of the queen, where Solomon in his robe of gold, 
sitting upon the throne in a room hung with tapestries of 
Tyrian blue, is 

" Most like the centre-spike of gold 
Which burns deep in the blue-bell's womb 
What time, with ardors manifold, 
The bee goes singing to her groom 
Drunken and overbold." 

A new race of bees can be formed in an apiary by 
removing the queen and introducing another impreg- 
nated queen of the desired breed. Since the new queen 
has power to fertilize her own eggs, her progeny will be 
pure ; and since the workers and drones Hve but a few 
months, while the queen hves several years, after one 
season the hive will be peopled by the new stock. A bee- 
hive remains tenanted year after year by apparently the 
same bees, but as a matter of fact the workers and drones 
are constantly dying and constantly being renewed. Brief 
life is here their portion, and they live their few weeks or 
months and then, dying, make room for the new-comers 
that are ready to take their places and pass through the 
same brief period of life on earth. 

The queen-bee has great tenacity of life, as well as 
longevity. She resists the effects of chloroform much 
longer than either worker or drone, and will often continue 
alive in conditions that have proved fatal to the workers 
confined with her. 

128 The Honey-Makers 

The Italian bee has been introduced into this country 
by sending queen-bees from Italy, and this variety of bee 
is now very common here. It is a pretty bee, with the 
upper rings of the abdomen of a light tan color, a mark 
which distinguishes it at once from the common brown 
or German bee. 

Queen-bees are raised in large numbers for exportation 
by Italian bee-keepers. By removing the queen the bees 
can be set to building queen cells and raising queens, and 
if the " brood " is watched and the young queens pre- 
vented from killing each other, large numbers can some- 
times be taken from a hive in the course of a season. 

The queen-bee, shut in a small box with a wire gauze 
covering, supplied with food and accompanied by two or 
three dozen workers for comfort and consolation, can be 
sent through the mails in safety for very long distances. 

In a Texan bee journal we read the following interesting 
advertisement, — 

" We will receive next month a fresh supply of the finest 
imported Italian queens to be had in Italy, also some 
Holylands from Jerusalem, in June, and Cyprians from 
Cyprus, in May. All direct from their native lands." 

Bees have been sent by mail from Germany to California, 
to Australia, and to Calcutta, India. 



The drone occupies a position tliat is unique, but not 
enviable. He has been obliged to endure the slings and 
arrows of outrageous fortune in his own family, and also, 
from all time, the disapproval of the human race. This 
last misfortune, however, he is said to bear with extreme 

We find him abused in Greek and Latin as well as in 
all the modern tongues. 

Aristotle and Pliny call him a thief. 

Virgil says he is ignavum fucos pecus, while modern 
writers brand him as lazy and good-for-nothing. 

" I would be loath 
To be a burden, or feed like a drone 
On the industrious labor of the bee," 

say Beaumont and Fletcher in their " Honest Man's For- 
tune." And Butler joins the hue and cry, saying, — 

" The drone is a gross stingless bee, that spendeth his 
time in gluttony and idleness. For howsoever he brave 
it with his round velvet cap, his side gown, his full paunch, 
and his loud voice, yet is he but an idle companion, living 
by the sweat of others' brows. He worketh not at all, 
either at home or abroad, and yet spendeth as much as 
two labourers : you shall never find his maw without a drop 
of the purest nectar. In the heat of the day he flieth abroad, 
aloft and about, and that with no small noise, as though 


130 The Honey-Makers 

he would do some great acl ; but it is only for his pleasure, 
and to get him a stomach, and then returns he presently to 
his cheer." 

Moffett uses the time-honored privilege of abusing the 
drone, to whip, at the same time, his Roman Catholic 

" Some have stings (as all true Bees have :) others again 
are without a sting, as counterfeit and bastardly Bees, which 
(even like the idle, sluggish, lither, and ravenous cloystered 
Monks, thrice worse than theeves) you shall see to be 
more gorbelHed, having larger throats, and bigger bodies, 
yet neither excellent or markable, either for any good 
behaviour and conditions, or gifts of the minde. Men 
call them unprofitable cattle, and good for nothing, Fuci, 
that is, Drones ; either because they would seem to be 
labourers, when indeed they are not : or because that 
under the colour and pretence of labour (for you shall 
sometime have them to carry wax, and to be very busie 
in forming and working Honey-combs,) they may eat up 
a.11 the Honey." 

The ancients sometimes speak of the drone as if it 
were not a bee at all, but some other insect that made its 
nest with the bees. Some believed that it laid its own 
eggs and made its own cells, using the hive only as a 
convenient resting-place where it could get food at others' 

The following is Pliny's opinion of it : — 

'' The drones have no sting, and would seem to be a 
kind of imperfect bee, formed the very last of all; the 
expiring effort, as it were, of worn-out and exhausted old 
age, a late and tardy offspring, and doomed, in a measure, 
to be the slaves of the genuine bees. Hence it is that 
the bees exercise over them a vigorous authority, compel 
them to take the foremost rank in their labours, and if 

The Drone i 31 

they show any sluggishness, punish them without mercy. 
If you deprive a drone of its wings, and then replace it 
in the hive, it will pull off the wings of the other drones." 

Needless to say, it will not pull off the wings of the other 
drones if reduced to that unpleasant condition. Neither 
will it labor, no matter how mercilessly it may be 

After ages of scorn and contumely, it is time for some 
one to break a lance in the service of the drone. 

It is time for some one to proclaim him for what he is, 
next to the queen the most important bee in the hive, and 
to demand that he be recognized as such by the old and 
the young, by the wise and by the foolish. 

His destiny is a hard one, but he is not ignoble. He 
merits the crown of martyrdom, though he is the most 
cheerful martyr imaginable. He is the male bee ; and if 
in other creatures his sex is pre-eminent, in him the tables 
are indeed turned, and he finds himself wholly at the mercy 
of the worker-bee, who has no mercy. 

He is carefully nurtured in infancy, being, like the queen, 
fed on royal jelly. 

He comes forth an innocent and happy bee, capable of 
enjoying life, but unfitted to share in the labor of the 

By no fault of his own he has a very short tongue, too 
short to gather honey from the flowers ; he has also small 
weak jaws quite incapable of working in wax or performing 
any other difficult task. He has no wax glands, no honey- 
sac in which to convey sweets to the hive ; no pollen 
baskets on his legs, and no well-developed gathering hairs 
on his body. So far as work is concerned, he is by destiny 
an aristocrat and suffers the fate of the aristocrat born into 
a communistic society. 

He is large, being more bulky than the queen, though 

132 The Honey-Makers 

not so long in the abdomen. His wings are large and 
powerful, though he does not use them often. 

He has a large round head with particularly fine eyes, 

his great compound orbs covering the sides of his head 

and meeting on top, thus crowding the three 

simple eyes out of their places to a lower 

position between the compound eyes. Each 

eye contains the enormous number of more 

than thirteen thousand facets, the worker having 

only half that many. 

The Drone. jjg j-j^^g thirteen joints to his antennae instead 

of twelve, and these remarkable organs each contain nearly 

thirty-eight thousand smell-hollows. 

Thus magnificently equipped with sense organs, he forms 
a striking contrast to his mother, the queen. 

He is a handsome creature with his sheeny wings droop- 
ing about his bright form, making what Butler calls his 
"side gown." His back is covered by a soft golden-brown 
down as though he were clad in a jacket of fine velvet, and 
his legs are long, strong, and beautiful. He is less hairy 
than his sisters, the workers, though the end of his abdomen 
is fringed with rows of bright brown hairs. He is also 
less intelligent, for although his head is large, his brain is 

On the whole, with his big eyes, velvety body, and gos- 
samer wings, he is as pretty a bee as any in the hive, when 
regarded without prejudice, and he is certainly pleasanter 
to handle, as he never under any circumstances stings, one 
of his masculine peculiarities being the total absence of a 

If teased, he will sometimes go through all the motions 
of stinging, perhaps as an inherited remembrance of his 
mother's original power in that direction. And he will 
also threaten with his tiny jaws, showing plenty of mascu- 

The Drone 133 

line courage, even though he lacks weapons to make it 

He will thrust his short tongue into a drop of honey 
given him, though he much prefers running to one of his 
sisters and getting her to feed him, which she is usually 
perfectly willing to do. 

Like the queen, he is devoid of pollen-digesting glands, 
and thus all his hfe he is partly dependent upon his sisters 
for food. 

He appears just before the swarming season as a rule, 
and there may be hundreds, or even thousands, raised in 
one hive. 

Since each queen mates but once, and consequently only 
one drone is necessary to every swarm, the question arises 
as to why so many are produced. 

Doubtless for two reasons, — that no time may be lost when 
a queen flies abroad, and that cross-fertilization may at least 
occasionally be insured. 

The meeting between the queen and the drone takes 
place high in the air, and it is essential that the queen 
remain abroad as short a time as possible. Being large 
and conspicuous, she is in danger of falling a prey to insect- 
eating birds, or she may be blown into streams, or carried 
away by the wind and lost. 

For these reasons it is also desirable that she be not 
obliged to fly forth more than once, as she assuredly will, 
if not successful in finding a mate the first time. On 
sunny days the drones fly abroad in the middle of the day, 
the time when the young queens go forth. 

As soon as a queen takes flight, any drones that chance 
to be near follow. And now is explained the cause of the 
drone's splendid sense endowment and of his large strong 
wings. AU of his superior equipment is needed to help 
liim in the race. The victory is to tlie best, and thus are 
transmitted to posterity the qualities of the best. 

134 The Honey-Makers 

But even here the strange Nemesis of the drone's hfe 
follows him. The victor puts forth his splendid powers to 
the utmost, succeeds, provides for the hfe of coundess 
descendants, and as a result dies. 

Nor is this the end of the tragic tale. As the season 
advances and the drones are no longer needed, they are 
slaughtered in the most ruthless manner by the workers. 
Huber gives a graphic account of this act of anticipative 
economy, he having constructed a glass support for his 
hives, beneath which one could lie and observe what took 
place within. He placed six hives upon the glass table, 
and this is what he says : — 

" On the 4th of July, we saw the workers actually 
massacre the males in the whole six swarms, at the same 
hour, and with the same peculiarities. The glass table 
was covered with bees full of animation, rushing upon the 
drones as they came from the bottom of the hive ; they 
seized them by the antennae, the limbs, and the wings, 
and, after having dragged them about, or, so to speak, 
after quartering them, they killed them by repeated stings 
directed between the rings of the belly. The moment that 
this formidable weapon reached them was the last of their 
existence : they stretched their wings and expired. At the 
same time, as if the workers did not consider them as dead 
as they appeared to us, they still darted it so deep that it 
could hardly be withdrawn, and they were obliged to turn 
round upon themselves before the stings could be 

'' Next day, having resumed our former position, we 
witnessed new scenes of carnage. During three hours, the 
bees furiously destroyed the males. They had massacred 
all their own on the preceding evening, but now they 
attacked those which, driven from the neighboring hives, 
had taken refuge amongst them. We saw them also tear 

The Drone i 35 

some remaining nymphs of this species from the combs ; 
they greedily sucked all the fluid from the abdomen, and 
then carried them away. The following day no drones 
remained in the hives." 

Often the bee-keeper anticipates the onslaught by 
the workers ; and when the drones go forth for an hour 
in the sunshine he narrows the entrance to the hive so 
that the workers can pass, but the drones, being larger, 
cannot return. When the banished ones have collected 
disconsolately on the outside of the hive, they are swept 
into a vessel of water, and to put the crown upon their 
misfortunes — ignominiously fed to the chickens ! 

The ancients also excluded the drones by narrowing the 
entrance to the hive, as we learn was done as far back as 
the time of Aristotle. 

The edict of banishment by the bees themselves goes 
forth early or late in the season according to the condition 
of the storehouse. In a successful season the drones are 
tolerated longer than in a poor one. If the colony is weak 
or the honey flow slight, the drones may be cast out early 
in the summer, but under better circumstances they may be 
allowed to remain even as late as November. In a pros- 
perous colony, however, they are sooner or later destroyed, 
excepting that occasionally a few will be tolerated through 
the winter. 

The bee-life is in the strictest sense communal, and the 
death of the drones is necessary to the welfare of the 

With the exception of their one function, they are worse 
than useless, supplying many mouths to consume the pre- 
cious stores. 

Idle members are a menace to the safety of the com- 
munity, hence even such workers as become incapacitated 
are said to be ejected, and even the queen grown old or 


The Honey-Makers 

useless is sometimes sacrificed by her whilom attentive 
subjects. As Pliny says, they know of nothing but what 
is for the common benefit of all. 

The drones are the least tenacious of life of all the bees. 
When sent in a mailing box with queen and workers, 
several of them will generally arrive dead, and the others 
soon die, every drone having disappeared as a rule before 
a single worker succumbs. The drone is as easy to kill 
as the queen is difficult, a very short application of chloro- 
form being sufficient to end his term of existence. He is 
more delicate than any of the bees, sipping daintily of pre- 
pared sweets, flying only for pleasure in the warm sunshine, 
disappearing with a breath or a rude touch. Since he 
dies so easily it may be that death is not painful to him ; he 
struggles not, but passes on. 

His wing music is more sonorous than that of the other 
bees, giving a droning sound, from which he gets his 
name and by which he is easily recognized by a practised 




It is the worker-bee whose praises have been sounded 
from remotest times. It is her industry, her wisdom, and 
her virtues that have been sung, and it is of her the great 
French naturahst, Latreille, in his " History of 
Insects," is moved to exclaim, — 

" In the vast creation of insects, there is no 
one whose history presents to us such a prodigious 
number of wonders as that of the bee. In regard 
to industry, these insects are the chef (fceuvre of Worker. 
the creation ; and man himself, so proud of his natural gifts, 
is in some degree humihated at the view of the interior of a 

The workers have smaller eyes than the drones and fewer 
smell-hollows in their antennae, but these organs are better 
supplied with sensory hairs for feeling in flowers and comb 
cells, and their bodies are supplied with wonderful imple- 
ments of usefulness that the drone knows nothing about. 

In short, the worker-bees are a brilliant illustration of the 
blessings bestowed by labor. It is their ability and their 
wiUingness to work which has enabled them to vie with the 
highest of the insect race, one is almost tempted to say of 
any race. Work is their joyfully accepted portion from the 
moment they leave the cradle cell until life passes from 

The young bee, as she issues from her cell, is a pretty, 
baby-like creature, pale gray, covered with down, and weak 

138 The Honey-Makers 

in her actions. In two or three days she is in the heyday 
of strength and beauty. As she grows older and works 
harder, her youthful down wears off and she becomes 
darker and harder in appearance, for, as Moffett tells us, — 

''Their young ones be not very nice or tender, nor 
cockeringly brought up, for being but bare three days old, 
as soon as ever they begin to have wings, they enjoin them 
their task, and have an eye to them, that they be not idle, 
though never so little." 

In reality, they do not have even three days' grace, for 
their, wings are fully formed when they emerge from the 
cradle cell, and as soon as their damp hairs are dried and 
combed these mature infants proceed to " nurse " the ever- 
hungry occupants of the surrounding cradle cells. 

They stay at home as a rule for two or three weeks and 
do the " house-work " of the hive, removing dead bees and 
other foreign matter, attending the queen and feeding her, 
secreting wax, and building new combs, caring for the larvae 
and ventilating the hive. 

When first hatched the bee appears to have no desire to 
collect honey, not even storing it in the cells, when it is 
given to her. She must first serve her apprenticeship in 
the hive before the desire awakens to go forth to the honey 

The glands of the bee, as of other creatures, are more 
active in youth, consequently the young bee is best able to 
secrete the royal jelly and the wax. She is thus by nature 
a " nurse," and instinctively goes from cell to cell feeding 
her little larvae foster-children from her abundant stores. 

Aristotle and Pliny say that bees sit upon their young 
like hens, and Packard tells us the same, though in more 
scientific terms. 

" The manner in which the bee performs her incubatory 
office is by placing herself upon the cell of a nymph (pupa) 

The Worker i 39 

that is soon to be developed, and then beginning to respire 
at first very gradually. In a short time the respirations 
become more and more frequent, until at length they are 
increased to one hundred and twenty, or one hundred and 
thirty, per minute. 

" The body of the insect soon becomes of a high tempera- 
ture, and, on close inspection, is often found to be bathed 
with perspiration. When this is the case the temperature 
of the insect soon becomes reduced, and the insect leaves 
the cell, and another bee almost immediately takes her 
place. When respiration is performed less violently, and 
consequently less heat is evolved, the same bee will often 
continue on a cell for many hours in succession. This 
extreme amount of heat was evolved entirely by an act of 
will in accelerating the respiratory efforts, a strong indica- 
tion of the relation which subsists between the function of 
respiration and the development of animal heat." 

The habit of placing a guard before their door, ascribed 
to the bees of antiquity, is the habit of the bees of to-day, 
as can be proved by striking the hive, when out rush the 
sentinels to learn the cause of the disturbance. 

Sir John Lubbock ascertained by marking the bees that 
came out, and then calling them up at intervals, that the 
same ones stood on guard for at least several days in 

" Bees," says Huber, " preserve a sufficient guard, day 
and night, at the entrance of their habitation. These vigi- 
lant sentinels examine whatever is presented, and, as if 
distrusting their eyes, they touch with the antennae every 
individual endeavoring to penetrate the hive, and also the 
various substances put within their reach, which affords us 
an opportunity of observing that the antennae are certainly 
the organs of feeling. If a stranger queen appears, her 
entry is prevented by the bees on guard instantly laying 

140 The Honey-Makers 

hold of her legs or wings with their teeth, and crowding so 
closely around her that she cannot move." 

Worker-bees never sting a queen. Royalty hurls lance 
at royalty ; but the common folk desiring to dispense with a 
royal personage pohtely but fatally cluster about her so 
closely that she is smothered to death. 

When young bees leave the hive for the first time it is 
said they fly close to it for awhile to get their bearings and 
learn the exact locality of their home, and that when hives 
are moved the bees upon flying forth note the spot to which 
they are to return. 

When bees enter a new hive their first care is to build 
the combs, those marvellous structures that have given the 
bee such a high place in man's regard. 

A full meal and quiet favor wax production and bees 
leaving their old home always go with full honey sacs, to 
provide food for a time in case of need, and we may sup- 
pose to aid in the production of wax for the new combs. 

" When a swarm is placed in an empty hive," says 
Cheshire, " the bees climb the sides, and gradually and in 
close order advance along the roof, carefully securing them- 
selves by the hooks (toes) of the fore-legs, in order to sus- 
tain the weight of lengthened chains of their comrades, 
formed by bee after bee hooking her fore-feet into the 
hind-feet of the one above. In this manner, the whole 
swarm will in an hour or so suspend itself in festoons, 
which are usually in part attached beneath to the neigh- 
borhood of the hive door, in order that an efficient guard 
may be kept up, and to give ready ladder-way should any 
arrive with supplies. 

" This arrangement complete, all is hushed in perfect still- 
ness, no bee of the living chain moves, whilst a high tem- 
perature is sustained ; and now the abundant food with 
which each emigrant charged herself before she left the old 

The Worker 141 

home comes under the process of conversion, and the wax 
distils copiously on to the surface of the thin membrane in 
the pockets. . . . 

" The wax having been secreted a single bee starts the 
first comb, by attaching to the roof little masses of the 
plastic material, into which her scales are converted by 
prolonged chewing with secretion ; others follow her exam- 
ple, and the process of scooping and thinning commence, 
the parts removed being always added to the edge of the 
work, so that, in the darkness, and between the bees, grows 
downward that wonderful combination of lightness and 
strength, grace and utility, which has so long provoked the 
wonder and awakened the speculation of the philosopher, 
the naturalist and the mathematician." 

When the comb is fairly started and the first urgent 
necessity — that of supplying cells for the eggs — is over, 
some of the bees hasten to the fields for honey and pollen, 
and only a portion concern themselves with further comb 

It would seem that the production of wax is at least in 
part under the control of the bee, as in hives where arti- 
ficial comb^ is supplied the bees have been known not to 
secrete any wax, while on the other hand, during the 
height of the honey flow, in the hives where the bees build 
their own comb every worker bee in the colony seems to 
be supplied with wax scales, though these are not so 
abundant in the active bees as in those keeping still for 
the purpose, nor in the old foragers as in the young in- 
door bees. 

Although it requires from ten to sixteen pounds of honey 
to produce one of wax, such is the amazing economy 
exercised in the use of this precious material that one 

1 " Artificial comb " explained later — it is made of bee's wax — 
only the form, not the substance being artificially made. 

142 The Honey-Makers 

pound of it can store over thirty pounds of honey and it 
has been estimated that one pound of wax is moulded 
into from thirty-five to fifty thousand cells of worker comb. 

The scales of wax as formed on the abdomen are very 
thin, brittle, and fragile, quite unfit for building purposes. 

But after tliey have been thoroughly masticated and 
mixed with the saliva of the bee they become plastic and 
fit for use. 

Bees give out much extra heat during the season of wax 
secretion, owing doubtless to the increased vital activity, 
and this high temperature is useful in keeping the wax 
plastic, as cold wax is more brittle and less easily moulded. 

The bee first lays down the wax in a mass, as it were, 
and then with jaws and proboscis proceeds to hollow out 
and build up the cells ; scraping and moulding, drawing 
out the edges of the little six-sided cups that grow under 
her labors, pressing out the waxen sides so thin that they 
become transparent and the wonder grows that they are 
not broken in the operation. 

The natural form of a transverse section of the comb 
cell seems to be circular instead of hexagonal, as is shown 
by comparison with the cells of bumble-bees, and other 
species that have not acquired the skill of the hive-bee, 
and as is also shown by the cells about the edge of the 
hive-bee's comb, which are rounded when not in contact 
with anything. These rounded cells on the edges can be 
seen in the little square boxes of honey so commonly 

When hive-bees work, the cells they build are so placed 
as to interfere with those on all sides of them and thus are 
modified from the circular to the hexagonal form, the form 
that allows the greatest number of cells in a given space, 
with the least expenditure of wax. 

They stand a certain distance apart according to the 

. The Worker 143 

size of the cells they are building and with no apparent 
order or design create a fabric marvellous for order and 

Each inner cell when finished is a six-sided hollow prism, 
open at one end and closed at the other. No cell stands 
alone ; excepting on the edges of the comb, each is sur- 
rounded by six others, and the walls of each are common 
to the adjoining cells. 

The walls, although so thin, are water-tight, so that the 
enclosed nectar cannot pass from one cell to another. 

The comb of the hive-bee is two cells deep, the cells 
standing end to end and opening on opposite sides of the 
sheet of comb, each cell thus being easily accessible. 

In order that the honey may be the more readily re- 
tained the cells slant up a little and in addition are slightly 
curved. The partition X-Y, be- 
tween the two sets of cells, is ,~^ X 
heavier than the side walls, and as 
the bottom of each cell is concave 
on the inside, the cells on opposite 
sides of the comb do not stand 
base to base, but the base of one 

is so placed that the slanting walls of the bases of the 
opposite cells form its concavity. Thus upon 
looking down into an empty cell, the edges of 
three or sometimes four others are seen crossing 
back of its transparent base. Thus is greatly 
strengthened the bases which form the division wall be- 
tween the two sets of cells. 

Bees do not place themselves in orderly ranks and work 
away each at its own cell, but each bee as it were compre- 
hends the design of a honey-comb in a cake of wax and 
each contributes its share of labor to the whole without 
any apparent regard to law and order. 

144 The Honey-Makers 

" The finished comb is the result of the united efforts 
of the moving, resdess mass," says Root, " and the great 
mystery is, that anything so wonderful can ever result at 
all, from such a mixed-up, skipping about way of working 
as they seem to have. . . . 

" When the cells are built out only part way, they are 
filled with honey or eggs, and the length is increased when 
they feel disposed, or ' get around to it,' perhaps ; as a 
thick rim is left around the upper edge of the cell, they 
have the material at hand, to lengthen it at any time. This 
thick rim is also very necessary to give the bees a secure 
foothold, for the sides of the cells are so thin, they would 
be very apt to break down with even the light weight of a 
bee. When honey is coming in rapidly, and the bees are 
crowded for room to store it, their eagerness is so plainly 
apparent, as they push the work along, that they fairly 
seem to quiver with excitement ; but, for all that, they 
skip about from one cell to another in the same way, no 
one bee working in the same spot to exceed a minute or 
two, at the very outside. Very frequently, after one has 
bent a piece of wax a certain way, the next tips it in the 
opposite direction, and so on until completion ; but after 
all have given it a twist or a pull, it is found in pretty 
nearly the right spot. 

" As near as I can discover they moisten the thin ribbons 
of wax, with some sort of fluid or saliva. As the bee always 
preserves the thick rib or rim of the comb he is working, 
the looker-on would suppose he was making the walls of a 
considerable thickness, but if we drive him away, and 
break this rim, we will find that his mandibles have come 
so nearly together that the wax between them, beyond the 
rim, is almost as thin as a tissue paper." 

Thousands of bees pour in and out of the hive many 
times a day, thousands more swarm over the combs, each, 

The Worker 145 

untrammelled by rules, and with no set task, laboring at 
the general plan, storing a load in an empty cell, giving 
here and there a creating touch to the waxen fabric. 

No bee works for itself, no bee takes pride in its indi- 
vidual well-built cell. The multitude works as though it 
were one bee, and the joy of each is in the perfection of 
the whole. 

When the cells are finished and are nearly full of honey 
they are allowed to remain open for a few days that the 
extra water may evaporate and the honey be properly 
cured. They are then sealed or capped over with wax and 
the work is done. 

Honey-comb cells are not mathematically regular in size 
or shape, as was formerly believed, but vary a great deal in 
different combs. 

The old belief that honey-comb cells were perfectly 
uniform in size led some enterprising spirits to suggest 
them as convenient standards of measurement, but experi- 
ment showed such great diversity that they were forced to 
content themselves with the earth's meridian, which, though 
less convenient, is less variable. 

Variation in size and shape of cells is universal ; not 
only are the worker always smaller than the drone cells but 
those between the two are graduated from the smaller to 
the larger while the honey-comb cells often differ in size 
and shape. Often irregular cells are built in to fill an un- 
occupied space and queen cells show very great irregularity 
of form, size, and position, having been found on almost all 
parts of the comb, though as a rule they are built on the 
edges out of the way. 

The queen cells have much thicker walls than the other 
cells and are built of odds and ends of wax, often chippings 
from an old comb, so that they are seldom clean and beau- 
tiful like the other cells. 

146 The Honey-Makers 

The wonderful regularity of honey-comb is a beautiful 
tribute to the skill of the tiny workers, while its slight but 
universal irregularities show it to be the work of intelligence 
rather than of an unreasoning machine. 

The length of the cells differs far more than the diameter. 
The depth of brood cells is quite uniform, for it would 
not do to take many liberties with the cradle of the bee, 
but the honey cells are sometimes built out until they are 
two or even three times the length of the brood cells, form- 
ing long curved galleries. Where the space between the 
combs is great the cells are very apt to be built out, making 
their surfaces irregular and the honey difficult to handle. 
Even in the boxes arranged for the bees to build in, in 
the modern hives, the honey-comb is sometimes built out 
beyond the wooden edge of the box, so that it cannot be 
transported safely. 

Bees generally hang their combs parallel to each other, 
but they do not so generally hang the whole mass parallel 
to the side of their hive if left to their own devices. In 
fact they seem to prefer combs placed diagonally, and will 
even fasten one comb to another in such a way that it is 
impossible to remove the combs unbroken. 

Bee-keepers take the liberty of interfering with comb- 
building in these days and by suspending frames in the 
hive compel the bees to build their combs parallel to the 
side of the hive and to each other. These frames often 
contain a sheet of wax known as " foundation," and this is 
frequently stamped by machinery to represent the bases of 
the cells. The bees accept this assistance in good part, 
and falling upon the sheet of wax draw it out into cells, 
without attempting to change its position. Even a small 
piece of foundation hung in a frame will often serve to start 
them in a given direction. 

More than this, men having observed that bees eagerly 

The Worker 147 

fill extra space with pure honey, when the brood is supplied, 
have placed extra compartments containing foundation or 
even empty combs above the brood hive, leaving an en- 
trance into the upper part from the hive below — and in 
these "supers" the bees often store a phenomenal quantity 
of pure honey, which of course is claimed by man as a 
reward for his ingenuity, and which even from the bee's 
point of view one should think might belong fairly to man 
in return for his care of the colony. 

The little boxes of honey bought in the stores are frames 
taken from these upper stories. 

When comb is first built it is extremely beautiful, being 
v^'hite and transparent. But the bees use the same cells 
over and over, both for brood and provisions, so in time 
comb left in the hive becomes dark-colored and less attrac- 
tive in appearance, in old bee trees being sometimes almost 

The brood combs are built first and are generally hung 
on the side nearest the entrance to the hive while the extra 
stores are placed behind or above the brood. 

Honey is a luxury coveted by many creatures willing to 
steal into the hive and appropriate it, so it is placed as far 
out of reach as possible. 

The brood is placed in the centre of the comb and close 
about it is stored the mixture of pollen and honey known as 
"bee-bread" which the nurses feed to the young. 

The bee-bread, like the honey, is gathered from the 
flowers by the older bees or " foragers," whose work out- 
side the hive is very different from that within, and consists 
in carrying home stores of honey, pollen, " propolis " and 

A bee gathering pollen is very different in action from 
one gathering honey, as she rushes wildly over the flower 
heads, "kicking up a dust" in a very literal sense. She 

148 The Honey-Makers 

gathers this flower dust on the hairs of her body and then 
stands and combs it out with her numerous combs and 
brushes, deftly and quickly moistening it with honey when 
necessary to knead it together, and passes it from leg to 
leg until she has finally combed and scraped and rolled and 
patted it into her pollen baskets. Then home she hies. 
But we must let John Burroughs tell the rest. 

" When a bee brings pollen into the hive, he advances to 
the cell in which it is to be deposited and kicks it off as one 
might his overalls or rubber boots, making one foot help 
the other ; then he walks off without ever looking behind 
him ; another bee, one of the indoor hands, comes along 
and rams it down with his head and packs it into the cell 
as the dairy-maid packs butter into a firkin." 

If the bee has likewise a load of honey to deposit, she 
stands over another cell — one devoted to honey — and 
into this disgorges her precious drop of nectar. 

The bee's first care in the spring is to get fresh pollen. 
This it seems to need more than honey and the polleny wil- 
low catkins are alive with the eager provisioners. The 
willow gives honey too, and whoever will take the trouble 
to explore a willow catkin with a magnifying glass will be 
rewarded by a view of the pearly drop in each tiny flowerlet. 

Sometimes the bee-keeper helps out the pollen pantry in 
the early spring by giving his bees a supply of — rye flour or 
oatmeal ! They are usually willing to substitute it for pol- 
len, though it is difficult to understand how it can compare 
with it in nutrient value. 

We of to-day know very little about bee-bread, as it never 
is sold in the markets. But a generation ago people were 
as familiar with the flavor of bee-bread as of honey. In the 
old-fashioned box hives where the bees did everything for 
themselves, and all in one large room, he who "robbed" 
the bees found bee-bread and honey oftentimes in all the 

The Worker 149 

combs, and the brood comb scattered about with the rest. 
Bee-bread and honey were spread together on the sHces of 
bread for the children's, delectation, and if the flavor of the 
bee-bread was somewhat against the delicacy of the feast 
the enjoyment of the children was not sensibly lessened 

To-day bees sometimes store bee-bread in the sections 
designed by the bee-keeper for pure honey, or they may 
even put brood in them, but where this happens the sec- 
tions are not sold and the public is none the wiser. 

Bees are thirsty souls and will fly long distances for 
water if it is not obtainable near home. They take it to the 
hive, probably to help in preparing food for the young. 

The writer recalls a glass tank of water plants standing 
on the piazza of a Florida house where bees were always to 
be seen in crowds, sitting on the floating leaves, clinging to 
the stalks of the papyrus and edging the rim of the Httle 

The most troublesome cargo the bee carries is a sort of 
glue or resin called propolis with which it insists upon 
daubing over the whole inside of the hive. 

This sticky stuff is quite as troublesome to the bee- 
keeper as to the bee. The keeper takes pains to have 
the hives tight and clean, the bee takes pains to daub 
everything over with propolis, spoiling the appearance of 
the pretty white boxes provided for the honey-comb and 
fastening everything tight and fast so that when the keeper 
attempts to remove a section of honey ten to one he finds 
it carefully glued fast to everything it touches, unless he is 
on the watch to take it before the bee gets around to the 
gluing act. 

Bees mix propolis with wax to strengthen the cells, chink 
up every crevice and cranny, and if they are allowed will 
oftentimes carefully varnish over the whole surface of 

150 The Honey-Makers 

the newly capped comb, spoiling its looks and ruining its 

In old, loose-jointed hives and in tree-trunks the propolis 
is necessary to stop up holes and make the hive warm and 
snug for the winter, but in the well-made modern hive it is 
a decided nuisance, excepting in cases of defence. 

When a hive is attacked by robber-bees or more par- 
ticularly by moths, the colony will often defend itself by 
barricades built of propolis before the entrance, making 
this so small that a moth cannot enter. 

It was from this use of the substance that it received its 
name of " propolis," meaning " before the city." 

When bees build defences of propolis to prevent robber 
bees from entering, they contract the hive entrance so that 
but one bee can pass at a time, when the guards can take 
care of the robbers. 

Bees have been known to cover glass hives with propo- 
lis — doubtless to expel the light — thus rendering them 
useless for purposes of observation. 

The bees get propolis from the covering of varnish on 
the buds of some trees, but they are not particular, 
eagerly collecting their troublesome glue from pitch, resin, 
varnish or any similar substance they can find. 

Darwin tells us in the " Origin of Species " : " Andrew 
Knight observed that his bees, instead of laboriously 
collecting propolis, used a cement of wax and turpentine, 
with which he had covered decorticated trees.'' 

Propolis is greenish-yellow, and glistening in appearance 
when first gathered, but soon changes to a dark brown. 

It has a strong balsamic odor and is gathered and carried 
on the thighs like pollen. 

Propolis was formerly valued in medicine, and in some 
countries is still used, men going about and cleaning it 
from the hives. 

The Worker i 5 1 

Pliny says, — 

" Propolis has the property of extracting stings and 
all foreign bodies from the flesh, dispersing tumors, ripen- 
ing indurations, allaying pains of the sinews, and cicatrizing 
ulcers of the most obstinate nature." 

Keeping the hive clean is not one of the least arduous 
labors of the bee, yet it is done with scrupulous nicety, as 
Aristotle says, — 

" If any bees die in the hive, they carry them out ; and 
in other respects the bee is a very clean creature. For 
this reason they also eject their excrement when in flight, 
for the smell is bad. . . . 

" It has been already observed that they dislike bad smells 
and the scent of unguents and that they sting persons who 
use such things." 

Bees were believed by the ancients to have a particular 
dislike to the smell of cooking crabs and the bee-masters 
are advised to keep far from them the " crabs reddening in 
the fire," for as Pliny says, " The smell of crabs if 
they happen to be cooked in their vicinity is fatal to 

Where bees cannot remove obstructions in the hive they 
often cover them over with propolis, and there is a story of 
a venturesome mouse that entering a hive for honey was 
stung to death. Having slain their foe the bees found the 
corpse too large to move, and to protect themselves from 
the effects of its decomposition encased it in a tomb of 

It is also related that a snail having crawled into one of 
M. Re'aumeur's hives and retired into its shell at the 
approach of the foe was firmly glued to the hive floor. 
Even to the slow comprehension of a snail the situation 
must have been amazing, not to say agonizing, when it 
found its house had become its sepulchre. 

152 The Honey-Makers 

The queen and drones, feeding largely upon a concen- 
trated food, have little excretion and that of an inoffensive 
nature, so although they do not, like the workers, leave the 
hive, their presence there is unobjectionable. 

This and the habits of the workers account for the 
marvellous cleanliness of everything in the hive, and for the 
exquisite purity of the honeycomb. During the winter 
the bees are almost dormant, eating comparatively little, the 
workers being able to retain the residue of their food until 
they can take their spring flight. 

According to the ancient writers when bees flew abroad 
on windy days they carried a httle stone in their feet for 
ballast. But modern bees do not do this, and probably the 
ballast of the bees of the ancients was a misconception on 
the part of the observers. 

Bees were also said to lie on their backs to keep their 
wings dry when belated and obliged to lie abroad all night, 
but this too is foreign to the habits of modern bees. 

Bees hatched early in the season when there is much 
honey to gather often wear themselves out by excessive 
labor in six weeks or even less time, while if they would 
but take life easily they might linger for several months, 
nine months probably being the maximum period of a 
worker's life. 

During a great honey flow one colony of bees has been 
known to store seven hu?idred pounds of surplus honey in 
one season. This is very unusual, though it is not unusual 
for them to store a hundred pounds. A hundred pounds 
of cured honey means fifty gallons of nectar brought drop 
by drop from the flowers to the hive. No wonder such 
a task wears out the bees. In the frenzy of tlieir desire to 
get all there is they sometimes work by moonlight when the 
lindens are in bloom or other easily obtainable nectar is 
flowing in abundance. There is nothing in a bee's mind 

The Worker 1^-5 

so unpardonable as the wasting of nectar ; it prefers un- 
ceasing work and an early death. 

Much floundering about in flowers and flying against the 
wind tear and disfigure the wings so tliat an old field-bee 
is sometimes a sorry-looking sight. 

Moffett says of these : — 

" Oftentimes being over-wearied, they faint in their return 
to tlieir own private cottages, not being able to attain them. 
And because some of them in regard of their roughness 
are unfit to labour, by rubbing their bodies against stones 
and other hard matter they are smoothed, afterwards 
addressing themselves most stoutly to their business.'' 

This whimsical remedy for old age is matched by their 
reputed manner of performing their toilet. 

" When they have refreshed themselves with flying about, 
then they bath and wash themselves clean, and afterwards 
they lightly rub themselves smooth with leaves." 

The queens live several years, but the drones like the 
workers have a brief span of life, which, short as it is by 
nature, by art is made yet shorter. 

Although bees are intolerant of disease and helplessness 
they are not unkind to those upon whom misfortune has 
fallen, and a bee with a full honey-sac is always ready to 
feed a hungry sister. 

It is amusing to watch the bees on a window pane feed 
each other, particularly when new arrivals are introduced 
to those already in confinement. 

As soon as they recognize each other as from the same 
hive the bee fresh from the fields is invited to share her 
spoils and she stands with raised head, open jaws, and pre- 
sumably open mouth while her hungry sister inserts her 
long tongue and sucks the honey disgorged on her 

Sometimes the begging bee is a little too exacting or per- 

154 The Honey-Makers 

1 folic chnrt when, if the feeding bee is 
chance the supply falls sliorr, wacu, o 

teased too long she loses her temper, or is it a sense of 
humor that causes her suddenly to close her jaws upon 
the importunate and sensitive tongue of her sister? 

Whatever the cause that prompts the action there is no 
doubt of the effect. The bitten bee winces and jumps 
back, doubtless feeling inexpressible things, and begs no 
more for honey. 

Bees are quick to fly to the rescue and avenge the 
wrong of a sister bee when she is being hurt and cries for 
help. Every bee-keeper knows how much more likely he 
is to get stung if he inadvertently crushes any of the bees 
during his manipulations. 

Although the worker bees are undeveloped females and 
as a rule are unable to produce eggs, yet if a hive loses 
its queen and is unable to replace her a very curious thing 

Some of the better developed of the worker bees acquire 
power to lay eggs ! 

The origin of these " fertile workers " as they are called 
is uncertain. They may exist when there is a queen and 
then be destroyed by the bees, or the longing for young — 
for combs tilled with eggs and young bees — their particu- 
lar care and the hope of their race — may affect the phys- 
ical life of the bee so that it is possible for it to perform 
maternal functions. 

As it is impossible for a worker bee to mate because of 
her imperfect structure, all of her eggs are unfertilized and 
of course hatch into drones. 

The fertile workers are therefore a greater misfortune 
even than the loss of the queen since the swarm of drones 
that comes forth hastens the destruction of the colony by 
quickly consuming the stores. 

The old method of obtaining the honey was to smoke 

The Worker 155 

the bees to death with brimstone, — a custom which has 
justly merited the censure of all fair-minded people. 

Langstroth warmly exclaims : " Killing bees for their 
honey was, unquestionably, the invention of the dark ages, 
when the human family had lost — in apiarian pursuits, as 
well as in other things — the skill of former ages. In the 
times of Aristode, Varro, Columella, and Pliny, such a 
barbarous practice did not exist. The old cultivators took 
only what their bees could spare, killing no colonies, 
except such as were feeble or diseased. 

" The modern methods have again done away with these 
customs among enlightened men, and the time has come 
when the following epitaph, taken from a German work, 
might properly be placed over every pit of brimstoned 

bees : — 

' Here rests, 

cut off from useful labor, 

A colony of 

Industrious Bees 

basely murdered 

by its 

ungrateful and ignorant 

Owner.' " 

Thorley inveighs against the brimstoning of bees : " With 
the utmost Cruelty, Injustice, and inexcusable Ingratitude, 
destroying them, if not with Fire and Sword, yet with Fire 
and Sulphur, by Thousands and Ten Thousands, without 
the least Remorse. 

" Thus at once to despoil them of their Riches, and sacri- 
fice their dear Lives, must be barbarous indeed ; and to 
famish them to Death, is far worse than simple Suffocation." 

And again he says : — 

" The common, but cruel method of taking Hives, at this 
Season of the year, is by burning with Fire and Brimstone, 
to which I can by no means be reconciled ; and here in 

156 The Honey-Makers 

this public Manner protest against, preferring to it Fumi- 
gation ; whereby with safety we may become Possessors of 
their Treasure." 

Thomson has given us the following pathetic appeal 
against the destruction of bees by sulphur : — 

" Ah ! see where robb'd and murder'd in that pit 
Lies the still heaving hive ! at evening snatch'd, 
Beneath the cloud of guilt concealing night, 
And fix'd o'er sulphur. . . . 
Sudden the dark oppressive steam ascends, 
And us'd to milder scents, the tender race 
By thousands tumble from their honey'd dome, 
Convuls'd and agonising in the dust." 

Butler wants a law made as unalterable as that of the 
Medes and Persians : — 

"That they which feloniously break open these true 
labourers' houses, shall, like other house-breakers be 
deemed and judged as guilty of burglary, and so have no 
benefit or favour by the muses, that thus violate the 
Muses' sacred favorites." 

Shakespeare, in " Henry IV.," refers to the killing of the 
bees when the king awakens, finds his crown gone, and 
inveighs against the prince thus, — 

" For this the foolish over-careful fathers 
Have broke their sleeps with thoughts, 
Their brains with care, their bones with industry. 
For this they have engrossed and pil'd up 
The canker'd heaps of strange-achieved gold ; 
For this they have been thoughtful to invest 
Their sons with arts, and martial exercises : 
When, like the bee, culling from every flower 
The virtuous sweets. 

Our thighs pack'd with wax, our mouths with honey, 
We bring it to the hive ; and, like the bees, 
Are murder'd for our pains." 

The Worker 157 

Bee-hives are now so constructed that they can be 
opened and their contents removed or changed about, and 
examined without materially interfering with the actions of 
the bees that frequently continue their labors even when 
the comb is held in the hand of the bee-keeper. The 
chief excellence of the modern hive is in the movable 
frames, which are fitted with grooves, so that when the 
hive is opened, the frames containing the comb can 
easily be removed, the combs examined, changed in any 
way the bee-keeper pleases, and returned quickly. The 
movable frame hive, which has revolutionized bee-keeping, 
was invented in 1852 by Lorenzo Lorrain Langstroth, who 
is known as the '' father of American apiculture." 

Langstroth was born in Philadelphia in 1810, and from 
childhood was deeply interested in studying insect life. 
Later he devoted himself to the study of bees and to the 
development of the industry of apiculture, having done 
more than any one else in this country to give it the place 
it now holds here. He is the author of " The Honey Bee," 
one of the most interesting and best practical books on 

One of the great improvements in modern bee-keeping 
is the use of smoke to calm the bees instead of killing 
them. In the up-to-date apiaries a little instrument for 
puffing smoke is used for this purpose ; and the astonished 
tenants of the hive find not only the roof mysteriously, sud- 
denly, and silently removed from their habitation, but a 
stream of smoke pouring over their forms and stupefying 
them into stingless acquiescence in the depredations or 
changes made by some power from without. 

A shght smoking apphed to the bees when the hive is 
opened, and before they have time to recover from their 
surprise enough to use their stings, enables the skilful bee- 
keeper to examine the combs, take them out and put them 


The Honey-Makers 

in, handle the bees like flies, and, in short, do as he pleases 
witliout danger. 

Some bee-keepers are able to handle their little subjects 
with no protection whatever ; with bare hands and face and 
without smoke they perform the necessary operations. 

The bees continue working as if nothing unusual were 
happening ; those in the way of the operator often crawl 
harmlessly over his hands, taking all he does in good part, 
as though they understood that his efforts were directed to 
their ultimate good. 

There is no doubt that bees become accustomed to the 
manipulations of their owner and soon learn to know him. 



In early summer when the season is favorable for the 
storing of honey, the bees prosper and their hive is soon 
"boiling over" with occupants. 

The home is now too small for the multitude, and the 
queen-mother, hearing the piping of a young queen, instead 
of executing her, gives and bequeaths to her all of the 
brood comb, honey comb, unhatched young, indoor bees 
and present stores, and taking nothing with her but a great 
mass of her loyal subjects sallies forth to found a new house. 

The foragers that happen to be abroad when the exodus 
takes place remain with the young queen and help her build 
up the fortunes of her family. 

Sometimes a second swarm leaves soon after the first, 
with which goes the young queen, leaving a still younger 
one, or, it may be, one of the same age to attend to home 
affairs. When the colony is prosperous and swarming 
active, the bees do not allow the queens to kill each other. 

Sometimes as many as three swarms are cast in one 
season from the same hive, and even more ; indeed, we 
hear of as many as eleven having gone from a hive in 
Carolina. These new swarms each cast one or more, so 
that the astonished owner finished the season with twenty- 
two swarms, while a number more had escaped, as he had 
no hives in which to put them. 

Swammerdam tells an equally remarkable story of a bee- 
keeper who had only one hive left after the Count de Mans- 

i6o The Honey-Makers 

veldt overran Erabden. The bees did their best, however, 
to re-imburse him, becoming the parents and grandparents 
of thirty famih'es within the following year. 

When the swarm is preparing to depart there is an un- 
wonted state of excitement expressed by a peculiar noise 
which PHny thus comments upon : — 

" The king never quits the hive excepting when the 
swarm is about to depart ; a thing which may be known a 
long time beforehand, as for days a peculiar buzzing noise 
is to be heard within, which denotes that the bees are wait- 
ing for a favorable day, and making all due preparations for 
their departure. On such occasions if care is taken to 
deprive the king of one of his wings, the swarm will not fly 

Where the bee-keeper does not wish the number of bees 
in a hive lessened by swarming he still prevents it by clip- 
ping the queen's wings, for it is as Pliny said, — 

" When their leader is withheld from them the swarm 
can always be detained." 

"For they cannot possible live," says Moffett, '^without 
a king, against whom, none is so hardy as to lift up his 
finger to offer him any violence, much less to conspire his 
destruction, unless he (after the fashion of tyrants ) do over- 
throw and turn all things upside down, after his own will and 
lust, or neglecting carelessly the Weal publique, setteth all 
upon six and seven. Yea, if he accustom himself to go 
often abroad, (which he cannot do witliout the great hurt 
and prejudice of his Citizens) they do not. by and by kill 
him, but they take from him his wings, and if he then 
amend his life and look better to his office, they singularly 
affect and honor him." A statement of the case which 
does more credit to the imagination than to the observation 
of those days. 

As a rule bees do not sting when swarming, and Thorley 

The Swarm i6i 

tells in a very melodramatic manner how a swarm of bees 
once settled upon the breast and neck of a young girl who 
was helping him hive them. She, being afraid, had placed 
a cloth over her head and shoulders, and it so happened 
that the queen-bee crawled under this cloth and was tem- 
pestuously followed by the whole swarm. 

" It is not in my power," says Thorley, " to tell the Con- 
fusion and Distress of Mind I was in, from the awful Appre- 
hensions it raised ; and her Dread and Terror in such 
Circumstances may reasonably be supposed to be mucli 
more. Every moment she was at the Point of retiring with 
all the Bees about her. Vain Thought ! To escape by Flight. 
She might have left the Place indeed, but could not the 
Company ; and the Remedy would have been much worse 
than the Disease. Had she enraged them, all Resistance 
had been in Vain, and nothing less than her Life would 
have atoned for the Offence. And now to have had that 
Life (in so much Jeopardy) insured, what would I not have 
given? " 

Her life was saved, however, by Thorley's finding and 
removing the queen, when the swarm left their unwilling 
hostess to follow their rightful sovereign. The girl's reward 
was to become a local heroine and lose forever all fear of 
bees ! 

Butler describes the coming forth of the queen from the 
hive at the time of swarming with a pen more worthy of a 
novelist than of a naturalist. He tells us that when two 
thirds or three fourths of the swarm have departed, " the 
music ceaseth and then cometh forth this stately dame : 
who, walking a turn or two before the door (of purpose, 
you would think, to be seen) she takes her k;ave ; leaving 
but a small train to follow her, which hie them after as fast 
as they can. 

" This decent order, the great lords of the earth seem to 

1 62 The Honey-Makers 

have learned of this little lady : who, in their courtly prog- 
ress, going to Parliament, and other solemn processions, do 
send the greatest and fairest part of their retinue before 
them, leaving behind but a small troupe of necessary atten- 
dants, to guard their persons." 

The well-known habits of pounding on ketdes and reflect- 
ing light upon a swarm may not really cause it to settle in 
these days, but Virgil's advice to throw a htde dust upon 
them is good, though a more certain measure is to cause a 
smart shower from the garden hose to strike them, when 
down they come in a hurry, wondering, no doubt, what 
kind of storm this is that bursts out of a clear sky with no 
" signs " to warn them of its approach. They do not gen- 
erally swarm excepting in fair weather, and it may be that 
when dust is thrown they mistake it for some eccentric sort 
of storm. 

Pounding on kettles, however, has its advocates still, and 
there are those who contend that a loud noise prevents the 
note of the queen from being heard, and disconcerts the 
swarm to the point of causing it to settle. 

The excitement of swarming is great enough to increase 
the heat several degrees, Huber having discovered the 
temperature of a populous hive on a fine spring day to 
be from 90° to 97°, while at the swarming time it rises 
to 104°. 

Burroughs gives us a fascinating description of the swarm- 
ing of bees : — 

" I always feel that I have missed some good fortune if 
I am away from home when my bees swarm. What a 
delightful summer sound it is ! how they come pouring out 
of their hives, twenty or thirty thousand bees each striving 
to get out first : it is as when the dam gives way and lets 
the waters loose ; it is a flood of bees which breaks upward 
into the air and becomes a maze of whirling black lines to 

The Swarm 163 

the eye and a soft chorus of myriad musical sounds to the 

" This way and that they drift, now contracting, now 
expanding, rising, sinking, growing thick about some branch 
or bush, then dispersing and massing at some other point, 
till finally they begin to alight in earnest, when in a few 
moments the whole swarm is collected upon the branch, 
forming a bunch perhaps as large as a two-gallon measure." 

All the pleasures of the chase may be experienced in 
pursuing a swarm of runaway bees ; and whether the game 
is bagged or not, the hunter's hands are clean of useless 
slaughter, and his blood set in as active motion as though 
the quarry had run on four legs. 

Burroughs tells us of such an experience. The issuing 
swarm had been properly hived, — 

" But something offended them, or else the tree in the 
woods — perhaps some royal old maple or birch holding its 
head high above all others, with snug, spacious, irregular 
chambers and galleries — had too many attractions ; for 
they were presently discovered filling the air over the 
garden and whirling excitedly around. Gradually they 
began to drift over the street ; a moment more, and 
they had become separated from the other bees, and, 
drawing together in a more compact mass or cloud, 
away they went, a humming, flying vortex of bees, the 
queen in the centre, and the swarm revolving around her 
as a pivot, — over meadows, across creeks and swamps, 
straight for the heart of the mountain, about a mile dis- 
tjint, — slow at first, so that the youth who gave chase kept 
up with them, but increasing their speed till only a fox- 
hound could have kept them in sight. I saw their pursuer 
laboring up the side of the mountain, saw his white shirt- 
sleeves gleam as he entered the woods ; but he returned a 
few hours afterward without any clew as to the particular 

164 The Honey-Makers 

tree in which they had taken refuge out of the ten thousand 
that covered the side of the mountain." 

There came forth one hot July noontime another of 
Mr. Burroughs's swarms that proceeded to make off. 

"The house was situated on a steep hillside. Behind it, 
the ground rose for a hundred rods or so, at an angle of 
nearly forty-five degrees, and the prospect of having to 
chase them up this hill, if chase them we should, promised 
a good trial of wind at least ; for it soon became evident 
that their course lay in this direction. Determined to 
have a hand, or rather a foot, in the chase, I threw off my 
coat and hurried on, before the swarm was yet fairly organ- 
ized and under way. 

" The route soon led me into a field of standing rye, 
every spear of which held its head above my own. Plung- 
ing recklessly forward, my course marked to those watching 
from below by the agitated and wriggling grain, I emerged 
from the miniature forest just in time to see the runaways 
disappearing over the top of the hill, some fifty rods in 
advance of me. Lining them as well as I could, I soon 
reached the hill-top, my breath utterly gone and the per- 
spiration streaming from every pore of my skin. On the 
other side the country opened deep and wide. A large 
valley swept around to the north, heavily wooded at its 
head and on its sides. It became evident at once that 
the bees had made good their escape, and that whether 
they had stopped on one side of the valley or the other, 
or had indeed cleared the opposite mountain and gone 
into some unknown forest beyond, was entirely problemat- 
ical. I turned back, therefore, thinking of the honey-laden 
tree that some of these forests would hold before the falling 
of the leaf." 

One more engaging story Burroughs must tell us of run- 
away bees : — 

The Swarm 165 

" I heard of a youth in the neighborhood more lucky 
than myself on a like occasion. It seems that he had got 
well in advance of the swarm, whose route lay over a hill, 
as in my case, and as he neared the summit, hat in hand, 
the bees had just come up and were all about him. Pres- 
ently he noticed them hovering about his straw hat and 
alighting on his arm ; and in almost as brief a time as it 
takes to relate it, the whole swarm had followed the queen 
into his hat. Being near a stone wall, he coolly deposited 
his prize upon it, quickly disengaged himself from the 
accommodating bees, and returned for a hive. The ex- 
planation of this singular circumstance no doubt is, that 
the queen, unused to such long and heavy flights, was 
obliged to alight from very exhaustion. It is not very 
unusual for swarms to be thus found in remote fields, 
collected upon a bush or branch of a tree." 

Who among us but can sympathize with Mr. Burroughs 
when he exclaims : — 

" I love to see a swarm go off — if it is not mine ; and if 
mine must go, I want to be on hand to see the fun." 

The first hive-bees brought to America had the New 
World all to themselves for a long time. 

There were no rivals in the vast flowery plains but the 
wild bees that eat but do not store up honey and the " burly 
dozing humble-bee," that both eats and saves, albeit in 
small quantities, the joyous nectar of the blossoms. 

The honey-bee under these favorable circumstances 
prospered and increased amazingly until the forests of the 
United States were well supplied with "bee-trees," to the 
delectation alike of the Red Man and the bear, both of 
whom were quick to appreciate the value of the remarkable 
sweet supplied by the "white man's fly." 

The fondness of the bear for honey has been noted from 
early times, and many amusing stories have been told of its 

i66 The Honey-Makers 

efforts to appropriate the contents of the bee-trees, the 
following being credited to Demetrius, a Muscovite ambas- 
sador at Rome : — 

" A man searching in the woods for honey slipped down 
into a great hollow tree, where he found himself up to his 
breast in a lake of honey. 

" He stuck fast there two days, making the lonely woods 
resound in vain with his cries for help. Finally, when he 
had abandoned hope, a large bear appeared upon the scene, 
bent upon the same business that had taken the man there. 
Bruin smelled the honey, that had been stirred up by the 
struggles of the prisoner, and straightway cUmbed the tree 
and let himself down backward into the hollow. The man, 
whose wits had been sharpened by adversity, caught him 
about the loins and made as vigorous an outcry as he could. 
Up clambered Bruin in a panic, not knowing what thing 
had hold of him. The man clung fast, and the bear tugged, 
until by main force he had pulled himself and his captor 
out of the tree ; then the man let go and Bruin took to the 
woods with all speed, leaving his smeared companion to his 
own congratulations." 

The lake of honey into which the man fell recalls the 
stories one reads of lakes of honey sometimes found in 
India. Where the heat is excessive, the combs melt, and 
no doubt it sometimes happens that combs built in hollow 
trees are unable to bear the tropic sun at its fiercest and 
melt down, when the honey flows from the tree to the 
ground beneath. 

In the Hindu " Harsa-Carita " we read in a description of 
the hot season of its " raining beeswax in the woods from 
the bee-hives full of melting honey, as if they were covered 
with sweat." 

And again we are told of a sacred grove, parched and 
waterless in the hot season, that it was " all astir with the 

The Swarm 167 

swarms of bees flying out of the masses of honey-comb as 
they were licked by the monkeys and bears." 

Muir pays his tribute to California Bruin's fondness for 
honey, thus : — 

" Bears, too, roam the sweet wilderness, their blunt, 
shaggy forms harmonizing well with the trees and tangled 
bushes, and with the bees, also, notwithstanding the dispar- 
ity in size. They are fond of all good things, and enjoy 
them to the utmost, with but Httle troublesome discrimina- 
tion, — flowers and leaves as well as berries, and the bees 
themselves as well as their honey. Though the California 
bears have as yet had but little experience with honey-bees, 
they often succeed in reaching their bountiful stores, and 
it seems doubtful whether bees themselves enjoy honey 
with so great a relish. By means of their powerful teeth 
and claws they can gnaw and tear open almost any hive 
conveniently accessible. Most honey-bees, however, in 
search of a home are wise enough to make choice of a 
hollow in a living tree, a considerable distance above the 
ground, when such places are to be had ; then they are 
pretty secure, for though the smaller black and brown bears 
climb well, they are unable to break into strong hives 
while compelled to exert themselves to keep from falling, 
and at the same time to endure the stings of the fighting 
bees without having their paws free to rub them off. But 
woe to the black bumble-bees discovered in their mossy 
nests in the ground ! With a few strokes of their huge 
paws the bears uncover the entire establishment, and 
before time is given for a general buzz, bees old and young, 
larvae, honey, stings, nest, and all are taken in one ravishing 

According to the ancients the bear's object in despoil- 
ing bee-hives was not wholly epicurean. Pliny explains 
that when bears come forth from their winter sleep, still 
dull and torpid, — 

1 68 The Honey-Makers 

" Their eyesight is dull, for which reason in especial, 
they seek the combs of bees, in order that, from the bees 
stinging them in the throat and drawing blood, the oppres- 
sion in the head may be relieved." 

In Poland and other parts of Russia the bear's fondness 
for honey is taken advantage of by the wily hunters, who, 
knowing Bruin's weakness, set bear-traps before the bee- 

Not only bears and Indians but white men as well 
rejoice in the discovery of a bee-tree and undertake 
almost any labor to get the honey from it. Burroughs, 
in his "Idyl of the Honey-Bee," takes us on many interest- 
ing and successful hunts for bee-trees. 

The hunter " lines " the bees by catching some and put- 
ting them into a box containing honey. As soon as the 
bee has filled itself with honey he allows it to fly, when it 
rises up in the air to get its bearings and makes a "■ bee- 
hne " for home. 

As soon as he is sure of the direction taken by the bees, 
he moves the box and again watches their flight. The 
bee-tree will be found at the point of intersection of the 
two lines. This method of lining bees sounds extremely 
easy on paper ; it is not so easy in the forest, however, as 
anybody can discover by trying, though an experienced bee- 
hunter often becomes remarkably skilful in quickly locating 
the bee-trees. 

Bees have many enemies, as is but natural to those 
possessing a treasure desired by so many other creatures. 
Bears eat bees, honey and all, but they are not the only 
four-legged honey thieves, as Reynard in some places has 
a very bad reputation. Huish in his book upon bees says 
of him : — ■ 

" These rascals of foxes eat the bees as well as the honey, 
but it is the honey to which they are the most partial. For 

The Swarm 169 

two years a particular fox came every winter to overthrow 
my hives. I put a chicken and some bread to amuse him, 
and some poison to Icill him ; but, no, the cunning thief 
would not touch either; he went directly to the hives. 
Mark the sagacity of the animal ; he would not come in 
summer, when the bees were in full vigor, as he knew in 
what manner he would be received ; but he steals slyly to 
the hives when the inhabitants are in a state of torpor, and 
thus obtains their treasure without incurring any danger 

Pigs have been known to overturn hives for the sake of 
their contents. 

Some species of badger are very fond of honey, and 
Menzel tells of one that bites the trees containing wild 
honey out of rage because he cannot clamber up to it, and 
by the traces of these bites the inhabitants discover the 

In South America is found the honey-bear, or kinkajou, 
about as large as a cat, very strong and active, and a great 
destroyer of wild bees, for the sake of getting their honey. 
It lives in trees and has a long tongue, which helps it to 
appropriate the stolen sweets. 

There is an East Indian bear, the sloth-bear, or aswail, so 
fond of honey that it is named mellursus, or the honey-bear. 

The mouse in some places is a great nuisance to bee- 
keepers, making its nest in the roof of straw hives, whence 
it is able to sally forth and regale itself at its pleasure. 

Some birds have an appetite for bees, which has led to 
their banishment by the bee-keeper. 

Among these the tomtit, or titmouse, has a very bad 
reputation, being accused by no less an authority than 
Buffon of scratching and tapping at the hives to induce the 
sentinel bees to come forth, when one after the other they 
are caught and swallowed. 

lyo The Honey-Makers 

But the bee-eating feats of the titmouse, who is satisfied 
with ten or a dozen honeyed morsels for breakfast pale 
before the superior power of the American kmg-bird, or 
bee-martin, from the craw of one of which was once taken a 
hundred and seventy-one bees ! They had been swallowed 
so quickly that many were still alive ; and when they were 
laid upon a blanket in the sun, "fifty-four of them returned 
to life, licked themselves clean, and joyfully went back to 

their hives." 

The woodpecker is said to insert its tongue into any 
seductive crack in the hive and draw forth the honey, 
though it is not accused of taking the bees as well. 

The bird known as the " bee-eater " bears its guilt in its 
name, while from the time of Aristotle the swallow has 
borne the reproach of being a bee-eater; and an old 
Greek poet was moved to make it the following well-known 
address, — 

" Attic maiden, honey-fed. 

Chirping warbler, bear'st away 

Thou the busy buzzing bee, 

To thy callow brood a prey ? 

Warbler, thou a warbler seize ? 

Winged, one with lovely wings ? 

Guest thyself, by summer brought. 

Yellow guest whom summer brings 

Wilt not quickly let it drop ? 

' T is not fair, indeed, 't is wrong. 

That the ceaseless warbler should 

Die by mouth of ceaseless song." 

In the East Indies and Southern Africa dwells a clever 
little bird that, greatly desiring honey or young bees, 
yet fearing to be stung, points out the bee-tree to the hunters, 
receiving as reward a part of the spoil. 

Toads, frogs, and tree-frogs are not averse to a meal of 
bees, and Aristotle accuses the toad of great duplicity in 

The Swarm 171 

accomplishing its evil design, "for it blows into the 
entrance of the hive, and watches for and destroys them as 
they fly out ! " 

This is more than can be claimed for modern toads, 
though they do sometimes stand near the hives for the pur- 
pose of appropriating stragglers. 

There are different opinions concerning the effect of 
bee stings upon toads, some saying they do them no harm. 
But an eye-witness relates the following tragic circum- 
stance. A toad sitting in the sun suddenly cocked its eye 
at a bee that alighted near it. After a second's hesitation it 
shot forth its tongue and the bee disappeared, but not to 
die inglorious and unavenged, for presently the toad 
raised a protesting hand and rubbed its throat which at 
once began to swell in an amazing manner. The toad 
exhibited signs of the greatest distress and finally leaped 
up and fell over on its back dead, — a very much bloated 
and disfigured amphibian. 

This particular toad may have been uncommonly sensi- 
tive to bee-poison, or the bee may have inserted its sting 
directly into a blood-vessel. But whatever the cause there 
is no question as to the result. 

Huish brings in a verdict of guilty against the toad by 
relating that he once killed one under a hive and found 
nineteen undigested bees in its stomach, while some one 
else convicted a graceless batrachian of having swallowed 

Columella advises constructing the hive so as to " guard 
against the deceit and craft of the lizard, who, like a watch 
or keeper of the entry, and gaping for his prey, with open 
mouth destroys the bees as they go out." 

From the time of Aristotle wasps have been known as 
the enemies of bees, and Thorley says of the hornet, — 

" She flies about the Colonies of Hives, watching her 

172 The Honey-Makers 

Opportunity, then seizes a bee, and carries her away, as the 
Hawk does the little Bird." 

Sad to relate, bees often fight with, their neighbors and 
steal their honey, and they have been known to drain the 
nest of the bumble-bee of its stores. Yea, they even 
catch the home-coming borabus and torment her, four or 
five of them pulling her wings and biting her until she opens 
her mouth and yields up the very drop she is carrying. It 
is said the bumble-bees do not resist these onslaughts from 
their smaller and more intelligent neighbors. 

Hive-bees do resent the intrusion of robbers from other 
hives, however, and there sometimes occur terrific battles 
on this account. This was known to the ancients, and 
according to Pliny, — 

" If food happens to fail the inhabitants of any particular 
hive, the swarm makes a concerted attack upon a neighbor- 
ing one, with the view of plundering it. The swarm that 
is thus attacked at once ranges itself in battle array, and if 
the bee-keeper should happen to be present, that side 
which perceives itself favored by him will refrain from 
attacking him. They often fight, too, for other reasons as 
well, and the two generals are to be seen drawing up their 
ranks in battle-array against their opponents. The dispute 
generally arises in culling from the flowers, when each, the 
moment that it is in danger, summons its companions to 
its aid. The battle, however, is immediately put an end to 
by throwing dust among them, or raising a smoke." 

Bee-keepers in this age cannot rely upon immunity from 
attack by the swarm they desire to favor, nor are modern 
bees led in battle by their " generals " nor any governing 
power excepting their own insatiable desire to sting what- 
ever living thing they can get hold of. 

Fights between swarms are terrible affairs in which one 
would do well not to interfere without careful preparation. 

The Swarm \n\ 

Thorley was "a witness of fatal Battles, of More than two 
Days' Continuance, occasioned by a strange swarm forcing 
their way into a single Hive or Colony." 

"Shirach very gravely recommends it to apiarists whose 
hives are attacked by these depredators, to give the bees 
some honey mixed with brandy or wine, to increase and 
inflame their courage, that they may more resolutely defend 
their property against their piratical assailants." 

Spiders are sometimes a nuisance to bee-keepers, but 
the worst insect enemy of the bee is undoubtedly the 

In Europe the death's head moth enters the hives and 
causes havoc. Huber tells at length of a war waged by his 
bees against this moth by building barricades of propolis 
the years the moth were abundant, and tearing them down 
those seasons when the enemy failed to appear. 

The most destructive of all moths, however, is the so- 
called wax-moth. These little nuisances, of which there 
are two kinds, one half an inch, the other an inch long, 
flutter about the hives at dusk seeking an opportunity to 
enter, and if they succeed in doing so they deposit their 
eggs in crevices of the hive. As soon as the eggs hatch, 
the naked caterpillar-like larvas begin to feast on wax, 
breaking down the combs and causing general destruction. 
The little rascals spin a web about themselves which they 
cover on the outside with their own excretions and bits of 
wax, making a safe gallery in which to hide their tender 
bodies, and which they enlarge to suit their needs. They 
put forth their horny heads, devour wax, and grow 
apace. They are the only creatures, so far as we know, 
that are able to digest wax, but they find it quite suitable 
to their development, supplementing it by bee-bread and 
the cast-off skins of the larval bees. When these enemies 
get entrance to a hive they in time reduce its contents to a 

174 The Honey-Makers 

cobwebby mass of most disagreeable and dirty appearance, 
totally destroying the swarm of bees. 

Seen with an unprejudiced eye, the wax-moth is a pretty, 
silky-gray little creature that darts about with amazing swift- 
ness, but probably no bee-keeper has ever looked at it dis- 
passionately, as it is one of the worst pests he has to con- 
tend with. 

The list of those that relish honey and take it at the ex- 
pense of the bee would not be complete without adding 
that according to report the native Mexicans were once 
fond of taking their honey along with the bee, eating eggs 
and larvse, and that to this day the Hottentots do the same. 

In the " Curious History of Insects " we read the 
following : — 

" Bees have also been employed as an article of food. 
Knox tells us that the natives of Ceylon, when they meet 
with a swarm of bees hanging on a tree, hold burning torches 
under them to make them drop ; and so catch and carry 
them home where they boil and eat them, in their estimation, 
as excellent food." 

Again, — 

" Peter Martyr, speaking of the Caribbean Islands, says : 
' The inhabitants willingly eat the young bees, rawe, roasted, 
or sodden.' " 

And, — 

" Bancroft tells us that when the negroes of Guiana are 
stung by bees, they in revenge eat as many as they can 

In White's " Natural History of Selborne " we read of an 
idiot boy whose only intelligence was shown in skill in bee- 
catching. He would catch the bees in his fingers and eat 
them for the honey in their sacs. He would overturn hives 
for the sake of honey, and like the tomtit would rap at the 
entrance and catch the sentinels when they came forth. 

The Swarm ij^ 

He would linger about the place where metheglin was 
being made, and beg for it, calling it "bee-wine." He 
ran about, making a humming noise like the buzzing of bees 
with his lips, and was utterly stupid in everything excepting 
the getting of honey. 

In the opinion of Thorley, — 

" The last and worst Enemies of all are their most in- 
grateful, unjust, cruel, and merciless Owners, who annually 
destroy them by wholesale without the least Pity or Com- 
passion. A practise I absolutely disapprove and publickly 

Bees, like other creatures, are subject to disease, a fact 
thus commented upon by Pliny : — 

" Bees are also by nature liable to certain diseases of their 
own. The sign that they are diseased is a kind of torpid, 
moping sadness ; on such occasions, they are to be seen 
bringing out those that are sick before the hives, and plac- 
ing them in the warm sun, while others, again, are providing 
them with food. Those that are dead they carry away from 
the hive, and attend the bodies, paying their last duties, as 
it were, in funeral procession. 

" If the king should happen to be carried off by the pesti- 
lence, the swarm remains plunged in grief and listless in- 
activity ; it collects no more food, and ceases to issue forth 
from its abode ; the only thing that it does is to gather 
around the body, and to emit a melancholy humming noise. 
Upon such occasions, the usual plan is to disperse the 
swarm and take away the body ; for otherwise they would 
continue listlessly gazing upon it, and so prolong their grief. 
Indeed, if due care is not taken to come to their aid, they 
will die of hunger. It is from their cheerfulness, in fact, 
and their bright and sleek appearance that we usually form 
an estimate as to their health." 

This fancy sketch of their maladies does not truly repre- 


The Honey-Makers 

sent the bees of to-day, that suffer severely from certain 
diseases, but are not, so far as we know, consumed by grief 
over the death of their comrades, nor do they take care of 
them when sick. 

It is a well-known fact that bees, like most other insects, 
have parasites. In warm countries the " bee-louse " often 
proves troublesome, sometimes even covering the queen- 
bee until only her legs are visible. 



Every pleasant summer day the bees are up and away 
at daybreak in search of nectar. 

" Humming-moths and humming-birds seldom set foot 
upon a flower, but poise on the wing in front of it, 
and reach forward as if they were sucking through straws. 
But bees, though as dainty as they, hug their favorite flowers 
with profound cordiality, and push their blunt, polleny 
faces against them, like babies on their mother's bosom. 
And fondly, too, with eternal love, does Mother Nature 
clasp her small bee-babies, and suckle them, multitudes at 
once, on her warm Shasta breast." Thus Muir. And he 
might have said it of every flowery knoll this fair land over. 

In May tlie apple blossoms are rifled and their sweets 
gathered into the hives, to be fed mostly to the young. 

In June the red raspberries in the north tempt the bees 
from all other blooms and afford such abundant nectar 
that they begin to fill the upper stories with pure honey by 
which we are to benefit. 

But the honey of the first flowers belongs to the bees, 
and that from the maple, the willow, the alder, and the 
dandelion we are not as a rule allowed to taste. Our turn 
comes when the raspberries and white clover begin to 

Then is laid by great store of surplus sweets. As fast 
as a flower is drained of its nectar by the eager bees, its 
glands pour out more, so as long as a plant remains in 
bloom it yields as a rule tribute to the honey-seekers. 

178 The Honey-Makers 

This elaboration of nectar takes place in some flowers 
with amazing rapidity, so that if the blossoms are protected 
from the approach of insects, in a few hours they will look 
as if they had been dipped in honey. 

There is a very beautiful plant, Cleome Integrifolia, grow- 
ing wild in the west, and known as the Rocky Mountain 
Bee Plant, which yields an extraordinary quantity of honey, 
and a near relative of this, commonly known as the Spider 
Plant, a native of South America, is not only one of the 
most beautiful of garden flowers, but one of the most 
remarkable of honey-producers. 

The lovely pink flower clusters with their airy petals and 
long and slender filaments yield five gallons of nectar to 
the acre daily, and continue to bloom freely for three 
months. So vigorous is the life of these plants that the 
nectary can easily be seen filling up after it has been 
licked out by a bee, and the nectar is often elaborated in 
such abundance that it streams out on the ground. 

However, it is not necessary to go so far afield for plants 
yielding large store of nectar, as the flowers in our gardens, 
the nasturtiums, the honey-suckles, and many others, pro- 
duce an amount that is readily observable, and all know 
of the drop hidden at the bottom of each floret of clover. 

Both red and white clover yield a surprising amount of 
honey of superior delicacy, and one bee-keeper reports 
having obtained sixty-six pounds of clover honey in three 
days from one hive. 

Linden or lime-tree nectar is poured forth in such in- 
viting abundance that during the period of bloom the trees 
resound like enormous bee-hives, for every bee within fly- 
ing distance is on hand to fill its little " bottle," as Butler 
calls its honey-sac, and even on moonlight nights the trees 
have been known to breathe forth the hum of industry. 

The viper's bugloss, or " blue thistle," which is not a 

Honey 179 

thistle at all, but belongs to the Borage Family, often yields 
two hundred pounds to a colony, of a honey as clear and 
dehcate as that of white clover. 

It is stated that sweet clover, the dried leaves of which 
our grandmothers put in their linen closets, yields from 
four to five hundred pounds of honey to the acre. Who 
would imagine, looking over a waste of sweet clover, any 
such possible harvest? Of course this burden of sweets 
does not weigh down the clover all at once, the flowers 
continually renewing the supply as it is removed. 

The small sour-wood tree that grows so abundantly over 
the mountains of the Carolinas and in other sections of the 
country yields a rich harvest to the bee, as one bee-keeper 
experienced v\^hen he obtained twelve hundred pounds of 
sour-wood honey in one season from his apiary. This 
honey is dark in color but agreeable in flavor, and the tree 
is one of the prettiest ornaments of the summer forest 
with its sprays of white blossoms. Its name is derived 
from the acid taste of its leaves. 

The large cup-shaped green-and-yellow blossoms of the 
tulip-tree secrete so much nectar that it can sometimes 
be dipped out with a spoon, and bees will readily fill their 
hives with tulip-tree honey alone in the course of a few 
days. The tree itself is one of the handsomest of forest 
trees and well worth a place on the lawn. Its light green 
leaves as they unfold in the early spring on the southern 
mountains form one of the chief beauties of the landscape. 

The homely but interesting teasel, formerly cultivated 
for the purpose of carding woollen cloth by means of its spiny 
heads, affords both honey and water to the bee, the water 
being collected in cups formed by the bases of the leaves 
at every joint of the stem and containing from a spoonful 
to half a pint. 

Some kinds of honey are much more highly esteemed 

i8o The Honey-Makers 

than others. Linden honey, for instance, has been famous 
from antiquity, and is still esteemed wherever found, 
Lithuania in Russia being particularly noted for its lime- 
tree honey. When first gathered it is somewhat crude and 
with a slight turpentine taste, that disappears as the honey 
mellows with age. 

White clover honey, gathered by the bees in preference 
to almost any other, is by many considered the most per- 
fect of all honey. 

Sweet clover honey has a more decided but very deli- 
cious flavor, and is the main honey-yielding plant in some 
sections of the country. 

Each part of the country has its own honey, and while 
in the northern States white clover, linden, and buckwheat 
afford the principal supply, farther south a great store 
comes from the viper's bugloss, which was brought to this 
country from Europe and formerly cultivated in gardens, 
but is now a weed over large areas in the South, its beau- 
tiful blue flower-clusters yielding a clear, colorless, and 
delicate honey. 

Yet farther south the bees gather tribute from the cotton 
fields, storing tons of clear honey in pure white combs, — 
fit food for the houris, as thinks the Sultan of Turkey, who 
has cotton honey supplied to his seraglio. 

Yet farther south the orange blossoms yield a delectable 
and abundant sweet, while the mangroves and palmettoes 
are not far behind in excellence. 

The best honey in Persia, Florida, and the Island of 
Malta, though these countries are widely separated, comes 
from the orange blossoms, which yield a valued honey wher- 
ever they bloom. 

In the far West the white sage competes with the thyme 
of Mount Hymettus in the excellence of its honey, although 
honey from all members of the Sage Family is somewhat 

Honey i8i 

strong, and like linden honey is improved by standing un- 
covered for awhile. 

Pliny says : — 

" The honey of Attica is generally looked upon as the 
best in the world ; for which reason it is that the thyme 
of that country has been transplanted." 

In western New York, where catnip is grown in large 
fields, the honey retains a slight but evident flavor which 
tells its origin even when purchased half across the 

Each kind of flower gives its characteristic flavor to the 
honey, though the strong-flavored honeys are generally 
mellowed by time, the cruder principles probably escaping 
in volatile oils. 

In Wales, where leeks and onions are raised in large 
quantities for seed, and thus allowed to blossom, the honey 
partakes of the flavor, not to its advantage ; and every one 
knows the strong flavor of the buckwheat honey, a prime 
favorite with some, and concerning which Burroughs speaks 
most appreciatively. 

" It is a homely old stanza current among bee folk that — 

' A swarm of bees in May 
Is worth a load of hay ; 
A swarm of bees in June 
Is worth a silver spoon ; 
But a swarm in July 
Is not worth a fly.' 

" A swarm in May is indeed a treasure : it is like an April 
baby, sure to thrive, and will very likely itself send out a 
swarm a month or two later ; but a swarm in July is not to 
be despised ; it will store no clover or linden honey for the 
' grand seignior and the ladies of his seraglio,' but plenty 
of the rank and wholesome poor man's nectar, the sun- 
tanned product of the plebeian buckwheat. Buckwheat 

I 82 The Honey-Makers 

honey is the black sheep in this white flock; but there is 
spirit and character in it. It lays hold of the taste in no 
equivocal manner, especially when at a winter breakfast it 
meets its fellow, the russet buckwheat cake. Bread with 
honey to cover it from the same stalk is double good for- 
tune. It is not black, either, but nut-brown, and belongs 
to the same class of goods as Herrick's 

' Nut-brown mirth and russet wit.' 

How the bees love it ! and they bring the delicious odor 
of the blooming plant to the hive with them, so that in the 
moist, warm twilight the apiary is redolent with the perfume 
of buckwheat." 

In France the rosemary of Narbonne has made the honey 
of that region famous ; but we learn that this, like the honey 
of Hymettus, is living principally upon its past reputation, 
for the peasants have turned their attention to the vine- 
yards to the neglect of the bees, so that the supply of rose- 
mary honey from Narbonne is yearly diminishing. 

Languedoc also supplies rosemary honey of high renown, 
while the balm of Pontus has given that honey a name. 

" A species of broom (Spartium nubigerum), growing 
abundantly in the Canary Islands, renders the Peakof Tene- 
riffe productive of a very pure and transparent honey, of a 
delicious aromatic taste, and superior to that of Hymettus," 
says Bevan. 

Nearly all fragrant and bright flowers yield nectar, fra- 
grance, and color, being the plant's invitation to its insect 
guests to come and feast, and in return convey pollen to it 
from other plants of the same species, and bear away its 
pollen to cross-fertihze its neighbors. 

Many plants are so modified in form that self-fertilization 
is impossible, they being dependent upon the pollen brought 
by visiting insects. 

Honey 183 

Some flowers ripen the stamens first, so that when the 
pollen is ripe the pistil is not sufficiently mature to receive 
it, and when the pistil is ready the pollen is withered or 
has been removed. Others again ripen the pistil first. 
Still others have pistils and stamens so placed with rela- 
tion to each other that the pollen cannot reach the pistil. 
Some flowers possess only stamens, the pistils being found 
in other blossoms that have no stamens. Many wonderful 
and beautiful forms of flowers have developed to insure 
cross-fertilization by certain insects, an interesting subject 
which has been greatly developed and much written about 
in recent years. The task of carrying pollen does not rest 
wholly with the discretion of the bees, but is obligatory 
upon them, sometimes indeed proving a very disagreeable 
necessity, as in those orchids where the pollen masses 
smear the bees in what must be quite a disagreeable man- 
ner, and in the common milkweed, where the pollen is 
drawn forth in little sticky bundles from the anthers when 
the bee's body touches them. These sticky masses of 
milkweed pollen sometimes cling to the feet of the bees 
and tangle them up so that the little creatures become 
helpless and perish through the over-zeal of the milkweed. 

It was doubtless the attachment of these pollen masses 
to the heads of the bees that Butler refers to as marks of 
office : — 

" Besides their sovereign, the bees have also subordinate 
governors and leaders, not unfitly resembling captains and 
coronels of soldiers. For, different from the rest, they bear 
for their crest a tuft or tossel, in some colored yellow, in 
some murrey, in manner of a plume ; whereof some turn 
downward like an Ostric-feather, others stand upright like 
a Hern-top. And of both sorts some are greater and some 
less, as if there were degrees of those dignities among 
them. In all other respects they are like to the vulgar." 

184 The Honey-Makers 

The value of bees to the production of various fruits and 
vegetables is inestimable, as the horticulturist of to-day well 
knows ; and the wise farmer has a row of bee-hives not far 
from the orchard, that he may win, not only a store of 
delectable sweets, but also a sure crop from his fruit trees. 
It has been frequently demonstrated that orchards which 
year after year failed to bear, upon the introduction of 
bee-hives at once yielded a good crop. Unless the flowers 
are well fertilized no fruit will set ; or if it .does the apples 
or pears will be small and imperfect. 

The members of the Gourd Family, to which belong 
the melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers, are not self-fertiliz- 
ing ; consequently, when cucumbers are raised in green- 
houses for the winter market the gardener himself is 
obliged to convey the pollen from the staminate flowers to 
the pistils of the pistillate, or else press into service the 
bees. This he sometimes does, and certain large cucumber- 
houses are now supplied with bee-hives. 

Every one knows the story of the attempt to introduce 
red clover into Australia and New Zealand. The clover 
flourished admirably when first sown, but would set no 
seed. For some inysterious reason clover fields in these 
countries were a failure. 

The secret of the relation between the bumble-bee and 
the clover became known to the colonists, and a few nests 
of bumble-bees being introduced into the sterile fields settled 
the difficulty, thenceforth bumble-bees and clover assisting 
each other to the fulfilment of their destiny. 

The amount of nectar yielded by flowers is surprising, 
but the amount of honey collected by bees depends not 
only upon the abundance of nectar obtainable but upon the 
condition of the hive. 

In the old-fashioned box-hive, where the bees were 
smoked to death, thirty or forty pounds of mixed honey- 

Honey 185 

comb, brood-comb, bee-bread and dead bees were con- 
sidered a good yield for one season, wliile the following is 
quoted as being extraordinary even in the best constructed 
hives at the time it occurred, — 

"Mr. Wildman states that in the year 1789 he pur- 
chased a glass filled with exceedingly fine honey-combs 
weighing sixty-three pounds, which had collected within a 
month, and that the hive which it had surmounted still 
contained a full supply for the winter's consumption of the 
bees. This, however, was a very unusual product ; an 
ordinary hive or box may be considered well stocked when 
it yields from thirty to thirty-five pounds of honey." 

There is a different story to tell to-day when the bees are 
cared for with scientific knowledge ; provided with hives 
that seem to put them on their honor to fill the prepared 
chambers with honey ; encouraged to devote their time and 
strength wholly to honey-gathering by being given empty 
combs to fill, or wax foundation to build quickly into new 
oombs ; anci supplied with abundance of nectar-flowing 
flowers. No wonder they are stimulated to feats of honey- 
making that would have taxed the credulity of Mr. Wild- 
man with his sixty-three pounds of surplus honey. 

That amount is now the average in a prosperous apiary 
and even in the northern part of the United States a hun- 
dred pounds of pure surplus honey is not uncommon and 
two and three hundred pounds is sometimes obtained. 

In Texas one hive is reported as having yielded the 
amazing amount of seven hundred pounds of honey in 
one season from the horse-mint, that grows there in 

Seven hundred pounds of honey means over three 
hundred and fifty gallons of nectar brought drop by 
drop in the little " bottles " of the bees from the horse- 
mint to the hive. 

I 86 The Honey-Makers 

It is owing to the invention of the ingenious instrument 
known as the honey-extractor that a colony of bees is at 
present able to store such vast amounts of honey. By use 
of this instrument the combs-can be emptied without being 
broken and can be restored to the hive, for the bees to fill 
again. Nothing appeals to a bee's love of work like an 
empty comb, and the little creatures will continue to fill 
them as long as they can get a drop of honey to carry 

Langstroth thus explains the origin of the honey- 
extractor, — 

" In 1865 the late Major de Hruschka, of Dolo, near 
Venice, Italy, invented ' II Smelatore/ the honey- 

" It happened in this wise : He had given to his son a 
small piece of comb-honey, on a plate. The boy put the 
plate in his basket, and swung the basket around him, like 
a sling. Hruschka noticed that some honey had been 
drained out by the motion, and concluded that combs could 
be emptied by centrifugal force." 

To-day the caps are cut from the cells of honey-comb 
by a broad thin knife and the comb placed in an " extrac- 
tor," where it is rapidly revolved until the cells are empty. 
It is then returned to the bees that quickly repair any 
slight damage it may have received, and proceed to 
refill it. 

Since wax is wholly indigestible and since honey freed 
from the comb in this way is pure and as good as when in 
the comb, extracted honey is deservedly acquiring popular- 
ity, though there still lingers the very justifiable prejudice 
against " strained honey " which prevents extracted honey 
from coming as quickly as it deserves into general use in 
famihes, most people not yet understanding the differ- 
ence between the two. 

Honey 187 

Strained honey was obtained by pressing the combs, or 
by melting them, when the wax was taken from the top and 
the honey from below. Great carelessness in handling 
this honey and no care as to what kind of combs were 
pressed or melted resulted in a dark-colored liquid con- 
taining all sorts of disagreeable impurities, so it is no won- 
der there Hngers a feeling of distaste for honey that has 
been removed from the combs. 

Doubtless extracted honey is sometimes adulterated by 
dealers with cheap syrups and it is interesting to know that 
the adulteration of honey is an ancient as well as a modern 
fraud, for Pliny tells us that the must of grapes was boiled 
-down to the consistency of honey and used for its 

To-day the cheap and harmful glucose or corn-syrup 
supplants the must of grapes as an adulterant, just enough 
honey being added to flavor the compound. 

The color of the comb and of the honey depends 
doubtless upon the flowers from which the nectar is 
gathered, and from a note in the Koran we learn that, — 

" The Arabs are curious in and fond of honey. Mecca 
alone affords eight or nine varieties, green, white, red and 

Menzel tells us that in Russia, whose steppes afford the 
bees rich nourishment, is found honey of all colors, white, 
yellow, brown, yes black, sold in the cleanest vessels. 

He also tells us that in Siberia there are white bees 
whose honey is also white ; that from the Isle of Bourbon 
and the Isle of France there comes a green honey that 
is very valuable ; that a green honey in red wax cells is 
found in Africa; that in Madagascar is a very thin but 
brown honey made by little black stingless bees ; and in 
Brazil are black bees whose wax is also black. 

The comb of the Apis Mellilica, our hive-bee, is often 

I 88 The Honey-Makers 

very white and delicate when first made; though sometimes 
it is yellow and delicate, depending upon the kind of 
flowers the honey eaten by the bees to produce wax was 
gathered from. But as time goes on it becomes dark 
colored, particularly where brood and honey are alter- 
nately placed in the same cells, and old combs are some- 
times found which are almost black which is probably the 
explanation of Pliny's great German comb eight feet long 
and black on the convex side. The honey in an old bee- 
tree is much of it darker and stronger than that in one 
newly occupied. 

The nectar of some flowers is poisonous to man and 
particularly in the tropics one should taste wild honey with 

Serious results have sometimes followed the eating of 
poisonous honey, as in the well-known case of Xenophon's 
army during the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. 

The young general led his forlorn hope back from Asia 
to Greece, overcoming all obstacles of difficult travel and 
hostile people, but just before reaching Trebizond on the 
Euxine Sea his army met a terrible defeat which came not 
from the hostile men along his route but in a curious way 
from the bees. Xenophon's forces had put the inhabitants 
to flight and had quartered themselves in numerous vil- 
lages where were obtainable abundant supplies and among 
them a delicacy that was like to have cost Xenophon dear, 
but we will listen to the story as he himself tells it in the 
'' Anabasis " : — 

" Here, generally speaking, there was nothing to excite 
their wonderment, but the numbers of bee-hives were 
indeed astonishing, and so were certain properties of the 

" The effect upon the soldiers who tasted the combs was, 
that they all went for the nonce quite off their heads, and 

Honey 189 

suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, with a total inability 
to stand steady on their legs. A small dose produced a con- 
dition not unlike violent drunkenness, a large one an attack 
very like a fit of madness, and some dropped down, appar- 
ently at death's door. So they lay, hundreds of them, as 
if there had been a great defeat, a prey to the cruellest 
despondency. But the next day, none had died ; and al- 
most at the same hour of the day at which they had eaten 
they recovered their senses, and on the third or fourth day 
got on their legs again like convalescents after a severe 
course of medical treatment." 

Strabo tells a still more harrowing tale of the honey of 
Pontus. After describing the mountains and speaking of 
the savage Heptacometse who inhabited them he continues : 

" All the inhabitants of these mountains are quite savage, 
but the Heptacometce are more so than all the others. 
The Heptacomette cut off three of Pompey's cohorts, as 
they were passing through the mountains, by placing on 
their road vessels filled with maddening honey, which is 
procured from the branches of trees. The men who had 
tasted the honey and lost their senses were attacked and 
easily despatched." ^ 

Pliny has a good deal to say of poisonous honey : — 

" Indeed, the food of bees is of the very greatest impor- 
tance as it is owing to this that we meet with poisonous 
honey even. At Heraclita in Pontus the honey is extremely 
pernicious in certain years, though it is the same bees that 
make it at other times, ^galethron (goat's death) proves 
fatal to beasts of burden and particularly to goats, and its 
blossoms steeped in the rains of a wet spring contract 
most noxious properties." 

The beautiful rhododendron flowers that are abundant 

1 Not all of the honey of Pontus was poisonous, however, as that 
made from the balm held a very high place. 

190 The Honey-Makers 

in Pontus are accused of being this " goat's death/' the 
source of the poisonous honey. 

Pliny speaks too of maddening honey : — 

" In the country of the Sanni, in the same part of Pontus, 
there is another kind of honey, which causes madness and 
is called ' ma^nomenon.' It is attributed to the flowers of the 
rhododendron with which the woods there abound. Al- 
though the people pay a tribute to the Romans in wax they 
derive no profits whatever from the honey in consequence 
of these dangerous properties. 

" In Persis, too, and in Saetulia, a district of Mauritania 
Ccesariensis, bordering on the country of the Massssyli, there 
are poison honeycombs found ; and some too only partly 
so, one of the most insidious things that possibly could 
happen were it not that the livid color of the honey gives 
timely notice of its noxious qualities. What can we suppose 
to have possibly been the intention of Nature in thus lay- 
ing these traps in our way, giving us honey that is poison- 
ous in some years and good in others, poisonous in some 
parts of the combs and not in others, and that, too, the 
produce in all cases of the self-same bees? 

" It was not enough, forsooth, to have produced a sub- 
stance in which poison might be administered without the 
slightest difficulty, but must she herself administer it as well 
in die honey, to fall in the way of so many animated be- 
ings? What in fact can have been her motive except to 
render mankind a litUe more cautious and somewhat less 

Pliny also describes a honey, to be coveted by the house- 
wives of to-day, though it possessed but the one good 

" Upon Mount Carma in the Island of Crete, which is 
nine miles in circuit, there is not a fly to be found and 
honey made there no fly will touch. By this circumstance 

Honey 191 

honey coming from there is usually tested; it is highly 
prized for medical preparations." 

The rhododendrons and the laurels, that make the 
northern woods and the southern mountains of North 
America so gorgeous in the spring and summer, are still 
as poisonous as are members of the same family in Asia 
Minor ; though the bees here do not, as a rule, work 
upon these questionable sweets. That upon occasion they 
may do so however the following goes to prove : — - 

" Dr. Barton, in the American Philosophical Transac- 
tions, says that in the autumn and winter of 1 790, the 
honey collected near Philadelphia proved fatal to many, 
in consequence of which a minute inquiry was instituted 
under the direction of the American Government, and it 
was ascertained satisfactorily that the fatal honey had been 
chiefly extracted from the flowers of the Kalmia latifoha. 
Still more recendy, two persons at New York are said to 
have lost their lives by eating wild honey, which was sup- 
posed to have been gathered from the flowers of the dwarf 
laurel, a thriving shrub in the American woods." 

The same authority speaks of death having ensued from 
eating the common American pheasant which had fed on 
the leaves of the Kalmia latifolia, showing the extremely 
pernicious quality of this beautiful shrub. 

Again we are told : — 

''A party of young men, induced by the prospect of 
gain, having removed their hives from Pennsylvania to the 
Jerseys, whose vast savannas were finely painted with the 
flowers of the Kalmia angustifolia, could not use or dispose 
of their honey, on account of its intoxicating quality ; yet 
' the bees increased prodigiously,' an increase only to be 
explained by their being well and harmlessly fed." 

Some plants, however, are poisonous to the bees them- 
selves as the following curious story illustrates : — 

igi The Honey-Makers 

" A large swarm of bees having settled on a branch of 
the poison-ash (Rhus Vernix L.) in the county of West 
Chester in the province of New York, was put into a 
hive and removed to the place where it was to remain. 
Next morning the bees were found dead, swelled to double 
their natural size, and black, except a few which appeared 
torpid and feeble, and soon died on exposure to the air." 

And Pliny warns us, — 

" The greatest care should be taken to keep the cornel 
at a distance from the hive ; for if the bees once taste the 
blossoms of it, they will speedily die." 

This certainly is not true of the cornel, the Cornus florida 
or flowering dogwood of North America. This beautiful 
little tree that whitens the forests in spring, and whose 
flowers have an odor of honey, yields a large quantity of 
harmless nectar to the seeking bees. 

Dead bees have been found in tulip flowers and also 
strewing the shelves and floor of greenhouses where the 
cineraria was in bloom. 

The honey of the yew and also of box — sometimes 
called hemlock — has a bitter flavor which renders it un- 
palatable to man, the bitter Corsican honey being fre- 
quently referred to by the old writers, and thus by Ovid : 

" I think it 's Corsick honey, and the Bee 
From the cold Hemlock flowers gathered thee." 

There are stories of poisonous honey having been found 
in most parts of the world, though the laurels and rhodo- 
dendrons bear the worst name in this respect north of 
tropical climes. 

The plants that yield poisonous honey in the United 
States are Kalmia angustifolia, the little red-flowered sheep- 
laurel or lambkill of our northern pastures ; Kalmia latifolia, 
the splendid mountain laurel that makes the woods of 

Honey 193 

Eastern North America such a scene of beauty in the 
early summer ; Kalmia hirsuta ; Rhododendron maximum, 
one of the most glorious of blooming plants ; Azalea nudi- 
flora, the lovely purple azalea or pinxter flower that makes 
the mountains of the Carolinas so charming in the spring- 
time ; and Andromeda mariana or stagger-bush whose 
foliage is poisonous to lambs and calves. On the other 
hand the pretty little Andromeda nitida bears honey- 
scented flowers that yield a nectar abundant, delicate and 

It is interesting to note that all of the above-mentioned 
poisonous plants belong to the Heath Family that gives us 
our blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, wintergreens, 
and snowberries ; and to which belongs the heather, whose 
honey is so abundant, and so highly prized that the bees of 
Scotland are carried to the Highlands for the purpose of 
gathering it. 

The Heath Family offers us esteemed fruits with one 
hand, the juices of which are never poisonous ; and with 
the other gives us the most wonderful blooms of the 
American forests, — blooms that convert the mountain-sides 
into amazing flower-gardens, but whose beauty is for the 
eye alone. 

The beautiful and fragrant yellow jessamine that turns the 
southern swamps and vv^aysides to gold in the springtime 
has also the reputation of yielding poisonous honey. 

With such wealth of poisonous bloom it is remarkable 
that the honey of this country is ever fit to eat ; yet, as a 
matter of fact there are very few instances of harm having 
resulted from eating it. The bees prefer the harvest found 
in wholesome plants, that also bloom in abundance. 

Pliny gives us signs by which poisonous honey can be 
detected ; but as a matter of fact it is very seldom that 
color or flavor betray the danger. 


194 The Honey-Makers 

Sometimes honey from poisonous flowers proves injuri- 
ous to the young bees, and sometimes bees gather honey 
from other sources than flowers — if opportunity affords — 
as all know who have watched the primitive sap-boiling in 
Florida, where the cane is crushed in a wooden mill in 
the open air, and where the barrel into which the sap runs 
contains not only cane juice but a crust of honey bees that 
having come to gorge remain to die, drowned in the too 
abundant sweet. 

Nor do bees disdain the allurements of the cider-mill, 
though cider when stored in honey-comb is said to prove 
fatal to the young. And one grieves to learn that bees 
may, upon occasion, become sad inebriates. 

" It has been a gross libel upon animals to say that a 
man has made a beast of himself, when he has drunk to 
such excess as to lose his reason ; but we might without 
injustice say that he has made a bumble-bee of himself, for 
those litde debauchees are particularly prone to intoxication. 
Round the nectaries of hollyhocks, you may generally 
observe a set of determined topers, quaffing as pertina- 
ciously as if they belonged to Wilkes's club ; and round 
about the flower (to follow up the simile) several of the 
bon vivants will be found lying on the ground inebriated and 
insensible." Thus quotes Bevan, and immediately adds, 
'' I have frequently seen the ground beneath one of my 
pear-trees strewed over with hive-bees and wasps, in a simi- 
lar state, after they had banqueted upon the rich juices of 
the fallen fruit." 

Sometimes plants yield nectar from other organs than the 
glands of flowers, some of the vetches, for instance, having 
dark spots on their leaves froni which a sweet liquid exudes, 
and other plants having nectar-yielding glands on leaves or 

The source of honey was as puzzling to the ancients as 

Honey 195 

was the source of the offspring of the bees ; and while they 
believed them to gather the latter from flowers, they were 
convinced the honey came not from flowers but from the 
sky above. 

Aristotle says, " Honey falls from the air, principally 
about the rising of the stars, and when the rainbow rests 
upon the earth. Generally no honey is produced before 
the rising of the Pleiades." 

Pliny, too, goes into very interesting details upon the 

"This substance," he says, "is engendered from the air, 
mostly at the rising of the constellations, and more espe- 
cially when Sirius is shining; never, however, before the 
rising of the Vergiliae, and then just before daybreak. 

" Hence it is, that at early dawn the leaves of the trees 
are found covered with a kind of honey-like dew, and those 
who go into the open air at an early hour in the morning 
find their clothes covered, and their hair matted, with a sort 
of unctuous liquid. Whether it is that this liquid is the 
sweat of the heavens, or whether a saliva emanating from 
the stars, or a juice exuding from the air while purifying 
itself, would that it had been, when it comes to us, pure, 
limpid, and genuine, as it was when first it took its down- 
ward descent. But as it is, falling from so vast a height, 
attracting corruption in its passage, and tainted by the 
exhalations of the earth as it meets them ; sucked, too, as it 
is, from off the trees and the herbage of the fields and 
accumulated in the stomachs of the bees, — for they cast it 
up again through the mouth ; deteriorated besides by the 
juices of flowers, and then steeped within the hives and 
subjected to such repeated changes, — still, in spite of all 
this, it affords us, by its flavor, a most exquisite pleasure, 
the result, no doubt, of its ethereal nature and origin." 

According to the Eddas, honey-dew was a distillation 

196 The Honey-Makers 

of the sacred tree Ygdrasil, and in the "Elder Edda " we 
read, — 

" The great and sacred ash is besprinkled with a white 
water, whence comes the dew which falls into the valleys, 
and which spring from the fountain of Past-time." We are 
further informed that men call this the honey-dew, and that 
it is the food of bees. 

That honey is gathered chiefly from flowers a later gen- 
eration knew, still the belief in honey-dew from heaven lin- 
gered on, and we find Buder in 1634 thus explaining it, — 

" But the greatest plenty of purest nectar cometh from 
above : which Almighty God doth miraculously distil out 
of the air ; and hath ordained the oak, among all the trees 
of the wood, to receive and keep the same upon his smooth 
and solid leaves ; until either the bee's tongue or the sun's 
heat have drawn it away. When there is a honey-dew, you 
may perceive by the bees : for (as if they smelled it by the 
sweetness of the air) they presently issue out of their hives, 
in great haste following one another ; and refusing their 
old haunts, search and seek after the oak ; which for that 
time shall have more of their custom than all the plants of 
the earth. Sometimes the maple and hazel take part with 
the oak, but little and seldom. While the honey-dew last- 
eth, they are exceedingly earnest, plying their business hke 
men in harvest ; you may see them so thick at the hive 
door, passing to and fro, that oftentimes they throw down 
one another for haste. What this mel Roscidum should be, 
Pliny seemeth much to doubt. But, if conjectures might 
be admitted, I would rather judge it to be the very quint- 
essence of all the sweetness of the earth (which at that time 
is most plentiful) drawn up, as other dews, in vapours into 
the lowest region of the air, by the exceeding and continual 
heat of the sun ; and there concrete and condensated by 
the nightly cold into this most sweet and sovereign nectar, 

Honey 197 

which thence doth descend into the earth in a dew or 
small drizzling rain. 

" The hotter and drier the summer is, the greater and 
more frequent are the honey-dews : cold and wet weather 
is unkind tor them ; much rain at any time, as coming from 
a higher region, wasteth away that which is already ele- 
vated ; (so that there can be no more until another fit of 
hot and dry weather) and in the end it dissolveth them 

In White's " Natural History of Selborne " we read the 
following : — 

"June 4, 1783. Fast honey-dews this week. The rea- 
son of these seems to be, that in hot days the effluvia of 
flowers are drawn up by a brisk evaporation, and then in 
the night fall down with the dews with which they are 

Thorley expresses the same idea, — 

'' It is the most generally received and prevailing Opinion 
that the Honey-Dews consist of Vapours raised in the 
third Region, and being thoroughly purged and digested 
by the Heat of the Sun, and condensed, fall down to the 

What this strange honey-dew might be was long a mys- 
tery. There is no doubt that a sweet substance often covers 
the leaves of plants at certain seasons of the year, princi- 
pally in July and August. We still find the honey-dew, — 
often in disagreeable abundance, — and there are still those 
who look upon it as a precipitation of flower vapors that 
have been drawn into the upper air. 

Those who have been let into the secret of honey-dew, 
however, no longer consider it in any sense a distillation 
of the skies. 

Moreover, although Zeus' oaks still yield honey to the 
seeking bees, we know the sweet liquid is not a gift from 

198 The Honey-Makers 

any god. That poetical notion has vanished before the 
critical eye of science, which has discovered two natural 
causes for the appearance of the honey-dew. 

One is that under certain conditions certain plants ex- 
press a sweet sap from their leaves. This may not be 
" vegetable perspiration which trees emit for their relief 
in sultry weather," but it is sometimes as copious as a pro- 
fuse perspiration and in some instances at least appears to 
be the result of abnormal conditions. 

The other source of honey-dew one hesitates to exploit, 
for while one is willing to accept honey from the "bottle " 
of a bee, it is another matter to receive it graciously from a 
plant-louse. For no doubt the greater part of the honey- 
dew found in such clammy abundance on our tulip and 
oak trees, even on our apple-trees, on our elm, maple, 
plane, lime, and cherry-trees, on our hazel, blackberry, and 
currant bushes, in fact, upon occasion almost anywhere, 
comes from the little insects known as aphides, — the ants' 
cows, as they are sometimes called. 

These gourmands attach themselves to the under side of 
the leaf by the proboscis, and there stay and suck out the 
juices of the plant, taking the nourishment they need and 
manufacturing at the same time an excrementitious sub- 
stance of a sweet taste. 

This honey-dew the ants are very fond of, some species 
even cultivating the aphides for the sake of having it. The 
story obtained currency that the ant caressed the aphis with 
its feelers, when the accommodating " cow " gave forth a 
drop of the sweet liquid from two little " horns " on its back. 
To-day we are deprived, of even the small comfort of these 
" horns," which are shown to excrete, not the sweet honey- 
dew, but a waxy substance by which to smear the faces and 
so repel the attacks of insect enemies. The honey-dew 
then is purely excrementitious, and is elaborated in such 

Honey 199 

abundance that it is often thrown some distance in the form 
of a fine spray. When a tree is covered with aphides this 
honey-dew may frequently be seen raining down in a fine 
drizzle, which falls upon the upper surface of the leaves be- 
low, even on the ground and surrounding foliage, covering 
everything with a sticky substance that collects the dust 
and soon turns black, making the trees affected and every- 
thing near them extremely disagreeable to touch or to look 
at. There are many varieties of aphides, — some almost 
transparent, light green, and delicate-looking, others dark 
brown or reddish in hue. 

The bees are undoubtedly fond of this honey-dew and 
collect it in large quantities. Some writers speak of it as 
disagreeable in flavor and dark in color, while others speak 
well of it, the difference probably depending upon the 
species of aphis from which the honey was gathered. 

Bevan says, " During the time of a honey-dew more 
honey will be collected in one week than will be afforded 
by flowers in several," and recommends giving the bees 
extra room in which to store this abundant harvest. 

That it is not everywhere considered disagreeable is 
proven by the following couplet from Coleridge's " Kubla 

Khan " : — 

" He on honey-dew hath fed, 
And drunk the milk of Paradise." 

The English country people deem it a deposit of the east 
winds, and speak of it as John Hone3^-dew. 

Honey was formerly used instead of sugar to preserve 
fruits and Butler has collected for us a number of the old 
recipes, as appetizing to read as are most of the recipes of 

He tells us that, " Marmalade is thus made : First 
boil your quinces in their skins till they be soft ; then 
havino- pared and strained them, mix therein the like 

200 The Honey-Makers 

quantity of clarified honey ; and boil this together till it 
be so thick that in stirring (for you must continually stir 
it for fear of burning) you may see the bottom ; or, being 
cooled on a trencher, it be thick enough to slice ; then 
take it up and box it speedily. You may also add a 
quantity of almonds and nut-kernels : also cinnamon, 
ginger, cloves, and mace, of each a like quantity, pounded 
small, and put into the honey with the quinces, and in 
boiling to be stirred together. This is very good to com- 
fort and strengthen the stomach. For want of quinces you 
may take wardens, pears, or apples, and specially the 
pearinain, gilliflower, pippin, and roiall." 

One would not at all object to " comfort and strengthen 
the stomach " in this wise. 

" Marchpane may be made after this manner. Boil and 
clarify, by itself, so much honey as you think meet ; when it 
is cold, take to every pound of honey the white of an egg, 
and beat them together in a basin till they be incorporate 
together, and wax white : and when you have boiled it again 
two or three walms upon a fire of coals, continually stirring 
it, then put to it such quantity of blanched almonds or nut- 
kernels stamped as shall make it of a just consistence ; 
and after a walm or two more, when it is well mixed, pour 
it upon a table, and make up your marchpane. After- 
wards you may ice it with rose-water and sugar. This is 
good for the consumption." 

Consumption in those days had its compensation. 

'• Preserve fruits after this manner. 

" The daraascens, or otlier fruit, being gathered fresh from 
the tree, fair, and in their prime (neither green or sour, or 
over-ripe or sweet) with their stalks, but cut short ; weigh 
them, and take their weight in raw fine honey : and putting to 
the honey the like quantity of fair water, boil it from half 
quarter of an hour, or till it will yield no scum ; then 

Honey 201 

having slit the damascens in the dented side (for fear of 
brealcing) boil them in this liquor with a soft fire, con- 
tinually skimming and turning them, till the meat cometh 
clean from the stone ; and then take them up. If the 
liquor be then too thin, boil it more ; if in the boihng it 
be too thick, put in more fair water, or rose water, if you 
like it. The liquor being of a fit consistence, lay up and 
preserve therein your fruits. 

" If they be greater fruits, as quinces, pipins, or the like ; 
then shall it be expedient (when you have bored them 
through the middle, or have otherwise cored them) to put 
them in as soon as the liquor is first skimmed : and then 
to let them boil till they be as tender as Qadlings." 

" Conserves of roses is thus to be made : Take of the 
juice of fresh red roses one ounce, of fine honey clari- 
fied ten ounces : boil this together ; when it beginneth to 
boil, add of the leaves of fresh red roses (dipt with scissors 
in httle pieces) four ounces : boil them to the consumption 
of the juice, and presently put up the conserves into some 
earthen vessel. Keep it long therein ; for in time it 
waxeth better and better. 

" After the same manner is made conserves of violets. 

" Syrup of roses make thus : Steep fresh roses in hot 
water over the embers (the vessel being covered) until the 
roses wax pale : then strain out the roses, and put fresh in 
their places, until they also are pale : this do ten times, or 
until the water be red. And this being purged with 
whites of eggs (to every pint of liquor one) boil it gently 
with like quantity of fine honey, until it be of convenient 
thickness. If you prepare it for present uses, the less 
boiling will serve : if you mean to keep it, it requireth 
more ; for which purpose the sunning of it is good. This 
purgeth a httle, specially being new." 

Or thus : " Steep one pound of red rose leaves in four 

20 2 The Honey-Makers 

pound of water, four and twenty hours. When the water 
is strained, put into it two pound of fine honey, and boil 
it to the thickness of a syrup,, taking off the skum as it 
riseth. It tempereth the hot affections of the brain, it 
quencheth thirst, it strengtheneth the stomach, it procureth 
sleep, and stayeth thin rheums. 

''The syrup of violets is made (after the same manner) 
of fragrant violets, and steeped until the liquor be blue. 
Being well boiled, it may be kept a year without sinnewing 
or corruption. It tempereth and purgeth hot and sharp 
humors ; and therefore is good in a pleurisy : it expelleth 
melancholy, and the effects thereof, as headache, waking, 
dreaming, and heaviness of heart ; it is fit to be used 
before and after purging. 

" If any man like better to make these confections with 
sugar, let him take the like quantity as of honey : for sugar 
also hath, with his sweetness, a power to preserve ; as being 
a kind of honey. But in respect of the marvellous efficacy 
which fine and pure honey hath in preserving health, that 
gross and earthy stuff is no whit comparable to this celestial 
nectar. Although some quaint and lady-like palates 
(whom nothing but that which is far sought and dear bought 
can please) unhappily neglect it. In preserving fruits it 
hath more power through the viscosity thereof. Also con- 
serves and syrups, being made with honey, continue longer, 
and do more kindly work their effects. So that we may 
conclude with Ecclesiasticus, cap. ii. 3 : ' The bee is little 
among such as fly : but her fruit is the chief of sweet 
things.' " 

" Sweetmeats," juncates, or honey-meats from all time 
have been favorite luxuries, and in earher days were made 
principally of honey compounded with ''meats," such as 
flour, cheese, and even meat itself, the Bedas of Ceylon to 
this day, it is said, eating honey with their meat. 

Honey 203 

To-day confectionery is made principally of sugar, and 
fruits are generally preserved in it instead of in honey, the 
"quaint and lady-like palates " of the present day preferring 
sugar as being more delicate in flavor and making a less 
rich conserve, — moreover, it is cheaper. 

Yet honey is not wholly discarded in the manufacture of 
" sweetmeats ; " as witness the famous " honey cakes of 
Nuremberg," and as well the honey cakes sold at the 
French fairs, concerning which Langstroth says, — 

''In France, ' pain-d'^pice,' 'ginger-bread,' is sold in 
immense quantities at the fairs. The best makes are sold 
at the most important fairs throughout the country. It 
keeps an indefinite length of time, and farmers' wives are 
wont to buy enough to last for months. The following is 
the recipe -. — 

" Dissolve four ounces of soda in a glass of warm skimmed 
milk. Take four pounds of flour and pour in the milk and 
enough warm honey to make a thick dough, flavor with 
anise and coriander seeds, cloves, and cinnamon, all pow- 
dered fine ; knead carefully, as you would bread. Let it 
rise two hours in a warm place, spread in pans and bake in 
a moderately warm oven. Ten or twelve minutes will do, 
if the cakes are thin. As soon as the cake resists to the 
touch of the finger, it is done. Before baking, it may 
be decorated with almonds, preserved lemon peel, etc. 
Wheat flour makes good ' pain-d'epice,' but some prefer 
rye flour. Fall honey is preferable for it, on account of its 
strong taste." 

We are told that the gems and jumbles of the following 
two recipes are made by bakers and confectioners on a 
large scale, one firm in Wisconsin alone using ten tons of 
honey annually in their manufacture. 

Honey-gems. 2 qts. flour, 3 tablespoonfuls melted 
lard, 3 pt. honey, I pt. molasses, 4 heaping tablespoonfuls 

204 The Honey-Makers 

brown sugar, i^ level tablespoonfuls soda, i level teaspoon- 
ful salt, 1 pt. water, ^ teaspoonful extract vanilla. 

Honey jumbles. 2 qts. flour, 3 tablespoonfuls melted 
lard, I pt. honey, -} pt. molasses, i^ level tablespoonfuls 
soda, I level teaspoonful salt, 1 pt. water, ^ teaspoonful 

There are innumerable recipes for making cakes and 
candies of honey, and fruits are still often preserved in it. 
Jams too are made with honey, and fresh fruits may be kept 
by simply covering them with honey and allowing them to 
stand, when they are said to acquire a delicious flavor ; this 
is more reasonable than the statement of Hippocrates, that 
if the seeds of cucumbers and other plants are first soaked 
in honey and then planted, " the fruit that groweth of them 
will taste the sweeter." 

A delicious vinegar can be made from honey, which 
some prefer even to wine vinegar. 

A pound and a half of pure honey to a gallon of water is 
the usual recipe for vinegar, in which fermentation may be 
hastened by adding a httle mother of vinegar. 

The value of honey as a food and its superiority to sugar 
is recognized in many homes, where it is in constant use, 
particularly for children. 

It has always been considered good for the aged, and 
there was a wide-spread behef in former times that it pre- 
served those who ate it to an extreme old age ; and Pliny 
tells us that the people of Corsica were famous for being 
long-lived, and that this was attributed to their use of honey. 

Besides the large apiaries containing thousands of hives 
and yielding an annual income of many thousands of dol- 
lars, there are everywhere to be seen in this country stands 
of half-a-dozen or more hives kept by the farmers, who 
sometimes make as much profit from their bees as from 
their cattle or other live-stock. 



Again, one may see a row of hives in a village yard, or 
even in the yard or on the house-roof in a large city, where 
the eager little workers hie them away to the parks or the 
back yards and bring home abundant stores of sweets. The 
present writer, while walking in a crowded part of New 
York City, has had a handful of flowers plundered by 

Sometimes a glass hive is attached to a school-room 
window, where the children at any time can safely watch 
the movements of the busy occupants. 

zAgain, the glass hive has its place in the home, affording 
recreation to the family. 

There has been such a revival of interest in bees and 
honey the past few years that the hive is almost as common 
in many sections as the hen-house or the corn-crib. 



Mead, made from honey and water fermented, was the 
wine of the Northern peoples, being to them what the 
Blessed Soma juice was to the Hindus, palm and date wine 
to the Egyptians, and the fermented juice of the grape 
to the Greeks and Romans. 

The Hindus also used mead, though as a more common 
drink, and we know it was used in Greece and Italy both 
as a drink and for sacrifices. 

Apollonius Rhodius, about 235 B.C., in his "Argonauts," 
tells that before embarking they rested on the shore. 

" And beside them lay vast stores of food and sweet 
mead, which cupbearers drew forth in beakers." 

And again he says of Idas, one of the Argonauts, — 

" He spake ; and grasping in both hands a full goblet, 
drank off the pure sweet mead." 

When about to start they made their oblations, as Apol- 
lonius Rhodius takes care to inform us, — 

*' And now were the cables drawn in, and they poured a 
cup of mead upon the sea." 

The Abyssinians are also known to have used mead ; in 
short, nearly all peoples at some time or other have 
valued it. 

But it is in the heroic Northern age that we find mead 
the drink of the heroes. In the great feasting halls fair 
hands held the cup that crowned the feast. 

Mead 207 

These cups were sometimes " golden goblets ; " again, 
they were " horns " made from ox-horns or earlier from the 
capacious horns of the orochs curiously carved, often of 
enormous size, and frequently supplied with feet so that 
they could be set down when full. 

In the Rune calendar two drinking horns crossed signify 
January first, the time of the New Year's feast ; and another 
of the signs of the Rune calendar, denoting the month of 
September, is a bee-hive, " betokening the time for collect- 
ing the honey of the bee, which was so necessary in the 
preparation of the mead." 

At the New Year's feast and the continuing Yule festivi- 
ties, drinking-horns filled with mead passed incessantly 
around the board. 

In the sixth century, long before the " Eddas " were writ- 
ten, the Cymric bard Aneurin opens the " Gododin " with 
these glorious words in praise of Owain, — 

" He was a man in mind, in years a youth, And gallant in 
the din of war ; Fleet, thick-maned chargers Were ridden 
by the illustrious hero ; A shield, light and broad. Hung 
on the flank of his swift and slender steed ; His sword was 
blue and gleaming, His spurs were of gold, his raiment was 
woollen. . . . Thou hast gone to a bloody bier, Sooner 
than to a nuptial feast ! Thou hast become a meal for 
ravens, Ere thou didst reach the front of conflict ! Alas, 
Owain ! my beloved friend ; It is not meet that he should 
be devoured by ravens ! There is swelling sorrow in the 
plain. Where fell in death the only son of Marro. Adorned 
with his wreath, leader of rustic warriors, whenever he came 
Unattended by his troop, he would serve the mead before 
maidens. But the front of his shield would be pierced, if 
ever he heard the shout of war. No quarter would he give 
to those whom he pursued ; Nor would he retreat from the 
combat until blood flowed ; And he cut down like rushes 

2o8 The Honey-Makers 

the men who would not yield. The Gododin relates, that 
on the Coast of Mordei, Before the tents of Madog, when 
he returned, But one man in a hundred came with him." 

Farther in the story we learn that mead was not always a 
blessing to the heroes. 

" The heroes marched to Cattraeth, loquacious was the 
host ; Blue mead was their liquor, and it proved their 
poison ; In marshalled array they cut through the engines 
of war ; And after the joyful cry, silence ensued ! They 
should have gone to churches to perform penance ; The 
inevitable strife of death was about to pierce them. The 
heroes marched to Cattraeth, filled with mead and drunk, 
Compact and vigorous ; I should wrong them were I to 
neglect their fame ; Around the mighty, red, and murky 
blades, Obstinately and fiercely the dogs of war would 

Later we read, — 

" The heroes marched to Cattraeth with the dawn ; Their 
peace was disturbed by those who feared them ; A hundred 
thousand with three hundred engaged in mutual overthrow ; 
Drenched in gore, they marked the fall of the lances ; The 
post of war was most manfully and with gallantry main- 
tained, Before the retinue of Mynyddawg the Courteous. 
The heroes marched to Cattraeth with the dawn ; Feelingly 
did their home friends regret their absence ; Mead they 
drank, yellow, sweet, ensnaring ; That year is the point to 
which many a minstrel turns ; Redder were their swords 
than their plumes, Their blades were white as lime ; and 
into four parts were their helmets cloven, Even those of the 
retinue of Mynyddawg the Courteous." 

After the batde of Cattraeth, — 

'•' Yudvwlch and Cyvwlch the Tall drank the bright mead 
together by the light of torches ; though pleasant to the 
taste, a fatal foe. Gwarthleo was of the number, young, 

Mead 209 

rich, ever pressing forward, and there too was the gigantic 
Gwrnehng. In the early dawn bright was the horn in the 
hall of Eiddin, pompous the feast of mead at the meeting 
of reapers. Men drank transparent wine with battle-daring 
purpose. The reapers sang of war, war with the shining 
wing ; the minstrels sang of war, of harnessed war, of winged 

" The heroes who marched to Cattraeth were renowned, 
Wine and mead out of golden goblets was their beverage, 
That year was to them one of high solemnity, Three hundred 
and sixty-three chieftains, wearing the golden torques ; Of 
those who hurried forth after the excess of revelling, But 
three escaped by valour from the funeral fosse. The two 
war-dogs of Aeron, and Cynon the dauntless, And myself 
from the spilling of blood, the reward of my pure song. 

"When Caradawg rushed into battle, It was like the 
tearing onset of the woodland boar ; Bull of the army in 
the mangling fight. He allured the wild dogs by the action 
of his hand ; my witnesses are Owain the son of Eulat, 
And Gwrien, and Gwynn, and Gwriad ; But from Cattraeth, 
and its work of carnage, From the hill of Hydwn, ere it 
was gained, After the clear mead was put into his hand, 
He saw no more the hill of his father. The warriors 
marched with speed, together they bounded onward ; 
Short-lived were they, — they had become drunk over the 
distilled mead. The retinue of Mynyddawg, renowned 
in the hour of need ; Their Hfe was the price of their 
banquet of mead." 

" My hmbs are racked, And I am loaded, In the subter- 
ranean house ; An iron chain Passes over my two knees ; 
Yet of the mead and of the horn, And of the host of 
Cattraeth, I Aneurin will sing What is known to Taliesin, 
Who communicates to me his thoughts. Or a strain of 
Gododin, Before the dawn of the bright day." 


2IO The Honey- Makers 

In that old Anglo-Saxon pagan poem " Beowulf " of the 
seventh or eighth century, mead flows freely. 

Hrothgar was the son of Healfdene, who was the son of 
an older Beowulf. 

" Through Hrothgar's mind it ran that he would 
bid men make a hall, the greatest mead-house ever 
known, and there within deal out to young and old 
all that God gave him, except the share of the people 
and the lives of men. Widely it was proclaimed through 
this mid earth to many a tribe that a Folkstead was build- 
ing. When it was ready, to this greatest of halls he who 
had strength in his word gave the name Heorot. He 
belied not his pledge, but dealt out bracelets and money at 
the feast. The hall rose high and horn curved. There 
was the harp strung, loud was the song of the gleeman, 
who said he could tell from far back the beginning of 
men, and told how the Almighty wrought. The band 
of guests lived happily till one wrought like a fiend." 

This one who thus wrought was Grendel, a monster of 
the fens, son of a daughter of Cain. 

Every night he entered the hall and killed the heroes. 

Beowulf the Goth came from over the seas to rescue 
them, and Hrothgar's queen at the banquet given to 
Beowulf, their deliverer, passed the cup. 

"Then she went round, and gave on every side rich 
vessels to old and young, until she bore the mead-cup, 
bracelet-covered queen, to Beowulf." 

Beowulf killed the monster, and presents were heaped 
upon him and his followers. 

The queen said : " Take this cup, dear lord, and be 
thou happy, golden friend of men ; speak to the Goths 
kindly. Heorot, bright hall of rings, is cleansed. Enjoy 
the mead of the many, and leave to thy sons folk and land 
when thou must forth to behold God." 



The mother of Grendel appeared to avenge her son 
and was followed to the fen and slain ; thereupon, their work 
finished, " The bright warriors went to the ship, laden with 
weapons, steeds, and gold ; the mast rose over Hrothgar's 
boards. Beowulf gave to the boat-guard a sword bound 
with gold, and on the mead-bench he was afterwards the 
worthier for that heirloom." 

From a fragment of heroic Anglo-Saxon poetry we get 
this : — 

'' Never have I heard of sixty conquering heroes who 
better bore them at a conflict of men, nor ever requite 
song or bright mead better than his young warriors requited 

In Scandinavia mead was a national drink, and none 
who know the delights of Valhalla itself can doubt that 
mead flowed in those high halls where all were heroes I 

Honey dropped from the leaves of the sacred ash Ygdrasil, 
as in ancient Greece it dropped from the oak of Zeus;"but 
the mead of Valhalla, as we learn from the "Younger 
Edda," was derived from another source. 

Odin received the Einheriar, or heroes slain in battle, in 
Valhalla. ''Then asked Gangleri //^i? Wayfarer, 'What have 
the Einheriar to drink, which can supply them together 
with their meat (the flesh of the ever-renewed boar Sseh- 
riraner), or is water their drink there?' Then answered 
Har (the Lofty One), ' Wonderfully spierest thou now, 
that Allfather should bid to him King or Jarls or other 
chief men, and should give them water to drink ! And, 
indeed, many men, I trow, come up to Valhall, who, 
we should think, had dearly bought their water-drinking, if 
no better cheer could be expected there, — even such as 
have suffered wounds and pains unto the death. Nay ! 
something very different have I to tell thee there-about. 
A goat there is, hight Hejdrun, which standeth up in Val- 

2 I 2 The Honey-Makers 

hall and biteth leaves from the branches of that right 
famous tree called Lerathr. Now from out her teats there 
runneth so much mead, that she filleth therewith each day 
a drinking vessel so huge that all the Einheriar are made 
drunken thereby ? ' Then quod Gangleri, ' Most curious 
surely is that Goat, and right excellent must be the tree 
whose leaves she croppeth.' " 

PVom the " Elder Edda " we learn that Odin daily visited 
Saga, the Goddess of History, and drank with her mead 
from out a golden bowl. 

In the " Elder Edda " we also learn how Heimdal, the 
ward of the gods, guarding the bridge to heaven against 
the mountain giants, sustains himself by means of mead. 

" Himinbjorg it is called, 
Where Heimdal rules 
Over his holy halls ; 
There drinks the ward of the gods 
» In his delightful dwelling 

Glad the good mead." 

In the " Eddas " mead flows as freely as in the Anglo- 
Saxon poems ; every guest has it pressed upon him, 

" The massy flagon deign to wield, 
With generous cool metheglin filled," 

is ever the invitation, though the wording may differ, as 

" Bid him welcome, maiden ; haste, 
Let him our metheglin taste." 

In " Tegner's Frithiofs Saga," when King Bele feels his 
death approaching, he says : — 

" My mead-cup's flavor all is gone, 
The helm weighs down my brow ; 

My vision fails to trace the lines 
Of human weal and woe ; 

But nearer, brighter, Valhall shines, — 
My death 's at hand, I trow ! " 

Mead 213 

The mead-hall was the meeting-place of heroes where, 

" Went there at times a fair maid round the board, upfilling the 

mead-horns, — 
Blush'd she with downcast eyne, — in the mirrowing shield her 

Even as she blush'd too ; — how it gladded the deep-drinking 

champions ! " 

After the battle, the feast ; care has no place here. 

" What wilt thou ? — For have we not more than we need 
Of rich yellow bacon and brown-foaming mead ? " 

In Frithiof's Saga we have the hero's love song in which 
he assures his beloved, — 

" Did Valhall's blushing maids round-proffer 
The Mead-Horns, rich with foam of gold, — 
I Thee alone would pledge, Thee offer 
In gentle whispers love untold." 

The fatal potency of mead was not ignored even in song, 
for in the " Elder Edda," where Lok picks a quarrel with 
Elder, we read : — 

" For Asi sons the bowl I fill 
With mead, the source of many an ill." 

A fearful revenge did Gudrun take upon her husband 
Atli, in one of the oldest epics of the north. The mead she 
brewed him was mixed with the blood of his — and her — 
sons, because he had killed the brothers of his fierce spouse. 

When Atli returned from the carnage Gudrun received him. 

" The bright-faced Gudrun, that fierce lady, hastened to 
bear the wine to the lords, and in her cruelty to share 
out the dainty morsels to the pale-faced princes, but to Adi 
she spoke a word of mockery. ' Thou hast eaten the fresh- 
bleeding hearts of thy sons, mi.xed with honey, thou giver 
of swords. Now thou shalt digest the gory flesh of man, 
thou stern king, having eaten of it as a dainty morsel, and 
sent it as a mess to thy friends. Never shalt thou, merry 

214 The Honey- Makers 

with ale, call thy two sons, Erp and Eitil, to thy knees from 
thy high seat. Thou shalt never see in the midst of thy 
court the young princes shafting their spears, chpping their 
horses' manes, or spurring their steeds ! ' " 

Again, in a fragment of an Atli lay, Atli says to Gudrun : 
" I dreamed that two hawks flew off my hand, famished 
for food, f dreamed that in sorrowful mood I ate their 
hearts all full of blood, dressed with honey." 

In the early Christian ages mead was still a favorite drink, 
and in the " Legends of the Holy Rood," belonging from 
the eleventh to the fifteenth centuries, we find it occasionally 

In the "Dispute between Mary and the Cross" occur 
these curious lines : — 

" Adam drowned his ghost in bitter gall ; instead of this 
gall God gave us mead ; with sweet mercy the bitterness is 
quenched." And again in the same legend, — 

" The fell Jews, stone-hearted in dark sins, have beaten 
a lamb, — softer than milk or mead mixed together. Like 
hard stones were the Jews. Softer than dew on the lilly- 
flower, was Christ's body in bloody colours." 

Mead, or meth, as it is often written, was still a common 
drink in Chaucer's time, and in the " Knight's Tale," 
Emelye, going to sacrifice at Diana's altar, took 

" Hir maydens, that she thider with hir ladde, 
Ful redily with hem the fyr they hadde, 
Thencens, the clothes, and the remenant al 
That to the sacrifyce longen shal ; 
The homes full of meth^ as was the gyse ; 
Ther lakked noght to doon hir sacrifyse." 

And in the " Miller's Tale," we are told of the carpenter's 
wife that, — 

" Hir mouth was swete as bragot or the nieeth. 
Or hord of apples leyd in hey or heeth." 

Mead 215 

Although the people drank sack instead of mead in 
Shakespeare's time, the bard of Avon occasionally refers 
to the older and no longer universal drink. In " Merry 
Wives of Windsor," Sir Hugh Evans anathematizing Falstaff 
declares him to be given to " sack and wine, and metheg- 
lins," and in '' Love's Labour 's Lost " Biron, jesting with the 
princess, uses the words " metheglin, wort, and malmsey," 
as illustrations of things that are sweet. 

Yet mead was a drink for royalty, concerning which 
Butler tells us : — 

" He who liketh to know the many and sundry makings 
of this wholesome drink must learn it of the ancient 
Britains : who therein do pass all other people. One 
excellent receipt I will here recite : and it is of that which 
our renowned Queen Elisabeth, of happy memory, did so 
well like, that she would every year have a vessel of it. 

" The Queen's Metheglin. First, gather a bushel of sweet- 
briar leaves, and a bushel of thyme, half a bushel of rose- 
mary, and a peck of bay-leaves. Seethe all these (being 
well washed) in a furnace ^ of fair water ; let them boil the 
space of half an hour, or better : and then pour out all the 
water and herbs into a vat, and let it stand until it be but 
milk warm : then strain the water from the herbs, and take 
to every six gallons of water one gallon of the finest honey, 
and put it into the boorne, and labor it together half an 
hour : then let it stand two days, stirring it well twice or 
thrice each day. Then take the liquor and boil it anew : 
and when it doth seethe, skim it as long as there remaineth 
any dross. When it is clear, put it into the vat as before, 
and there let it be cooled. You must then have in readi- 
ness a kiv(e) of new ale or beer, which as soon as you have 
emptied, suddenly whelm it upside down, and set it up 
again, and presently put in the metheglin, and let it stand 

1 According to Bevan not less than 120 gallons. 

21 6 The Honey- Makers 

three days a working. And then tun it up in barrels, tying 
at every tap-hole (by a pack thread) a little bag of beaten 
cloves and mace, to the value of an ounce. 

" It must stand half a year before it is drunk." 

Such was the mead of good Queen Bess. 

We of to-day would like to taste this beverage so agree- 
able to the royal palate of another age, but Elizabeth's 
recipe offers difficulties which few will take the trouble 
to surmount. 

Bevan gives the following recipe for mead, which though 
it lacks the most attractive ingredients of the queen's drink 
possesses the advantages of being understandable and 
simple : — 

" Dissolve an ounce of cream of tartar in five gallons of 
boiling water ; pour the solution off clear upon twenty 
pounds of fine honey, boil them together, and remove the 
scum as it rises. Towards the end of the boiling add an 
ounce of fine hops ; about ten minutes afterwards put the 
liquor into a tub to cool ; when reduced to a temperature 
of 70° or 80° Fahrenheit, according to the season, add a slice 
of bread toasted, and smeared over with a very httle yeast ; 
the smaller the quantity the better, for yeast invariably 
spoils the flavor of wines, and where there is a sufficiency 
of extractive matter in the ingredients employed, it should 
never be introduced : if fermented in wooden vessels none 
is required. The liquor should now stand in a warm room, 
and be stirred occasionally. As soon as it begins to carry a 
bead it should be tunned, and the cask filled up from time 
to time from the reserve, till the fermentation has nearly 
subsided. It should now be bunged down, leaving open a 
small peg-hole ; in a few days this may also be closed, 
and in about twelve months the wine will be fit to bottle." 

Those impatient to test the result of their brewing may 
make their mead thus : — 

Mead 217 

'•' Wash refuse combs in water, after extracting from them 
as much of the honey as will run ; then boil for a few 
minutes. This liquor will not require tartar or yeast. It 
should be tunned as soon as cool, bunged down in three or 
four days, and drunk in a few weeks." 

This is simplicity itself, and Thorley gives us another 
simple recipe for mead, which, he affirms, is " not inferior to 
the Best of foreign Wines." 

'^ Put three pounds of the finest Honey to one Gallon of 
Water ; boil it half an Hour (well scummed) then put in 
while boiling two Lemon Peels to each Gallon of the un- 
hoiled mixture. Work it with Yeast, then put it in your 
vessel with the Peel, to stand five or six months, and bottle 
it off for your use. 

" N. B. If you chuse to keep it several years put four 
Pounds to a Gallon." 

Bevan says, — 

" In some parts of Wales the refuse combs are brewed 
with malt, spices, etc., and the produce is called Braggot, 
a name derived from the old British words brag and gots, 
the former meaning malt, the latter hotiey-cotubP 

Metheglin is said to have been mead of the best quality, 
and in literature metheglin is frequently used instead of 

Butler instructs us thus concerning the virtue and the 
making of burnt metheglin : — 

"And as good and old metheglin excelleth all wines, as 
well for pleasantness in taste as for health ; so being burnt, 
it is better than any burnt wine, for comforting and settling 
of a weak and sick stomach, and for creating the natural 

" The manner of burning it (if you know not) may be 
this : First set on the fire a deep skillet or kettle almost 
full of water : when it boileth, put in a pewter pot full of 

21 8 The Honey-Makers 

metheglin : before that beginneth to boil, skim it, and put 
in two or three bruised cloves, and a branch of rosemary : 
then beat the yolk of an egg in a dish : put into it a 
spoonful of the mead cold : and stir them together, to keep 
the yolk from curdUng : then put to that a spoonful of the 
hot meth ; and after that another, and an other, always 
beating them together : and then, some and some, put all 
into the pot, still stirring it about. Then as soon as it 
boileth, take up the pot : and (saving your hands harmless) 
pour it into another warm pot of like capacity, firing it as it 
runneth : and so brew it till it will burn no more. A 
metheglin posset is of the like virtue." 

To-day metheglin is made and used principally as a 
medicine, being esteemed for coughs and colds, though 
once the honey drinks were prized as good wines are now. 

" There are three things in court which must be commu- 
nicated to the king, before they are made known to any 
other person, ist, Every sentence of the judge; 2nd, 
every new song; and, 3d, every cask of mead," are the 
commands found in an ancient law of Wales. 

Moreover, at the courts of the Princes of Wales the 
mead-maker was the eleventh person in dignity and took 
precedence of the physician. 

Hydromel, as the name implies, is composed of honey 
and water, and sometimes is not fermented, but drunk at 
once ; again, however, it is indistinguishable from mead, 
being but the Greek name for that liquor. 

Pliny says of the unfermented hydromel that it " is an 
extremely wholesome beverage for invalids who take 
nothing but a hght diet ; it reinvigorates the body, is sooth- 
ing to mouth and stomach, and by its refreshing prop- 
erties allays feverish heats. It is well suited for persons of 
a chilly temperament, or of a weak and pusillanimous con- 

Mead 219 

Pliny also considers hydromel valuable in diminishing 
"asperities of the mind," adding: — 

"There is no one in whom anger, affliction, sadness, 
and all the emotions of the mind may not in some degree 
be modified by diet. It will therefore be worth while to 
observe what aliments they are which exercise a physical 
effect, not only upon the body, but the disposition as 

A piece of advice which it might be wise to heed in 
these later days, and, if honey and water are indeed effica- 
cious in sweetening an acid nature, to apply them where 
the symptoms suggest the remedy. 

Pliny's hydromel does not differ materially from the 
mead of other writers, excepting that it is made from 
purified rain-water, as the following recipe given by 
him shows : — 

" There is a wine also made solely of honey and water. 
For this purpose it is recommended that rain-water should 
be kept for a period of five years. 

" Those who show greatest skill content themselves with 
taking the water just after it has fallen, and boiling it down 
to one third, to which they add one third in quantity of old 
honey, and keep the mixture exposed to the rays of a hot 
sun for forty days after the rising of the Dog-star ; others, 
however, rack it off in the course of ten days, and tightly 
cork the vessels in which it is kept. This beverage is 
known as ' hydromeli,' and with age acquires the flavor 
of wine. It is nowhere more highly esteemed than in 

Moffett declares the following recipes for hydromel to be 
those recommended by the famous physician Galen : — 

" Take sweet pure clean fountain water eight pounds, the 
best honey one pound, boyl them at a soft fire, in an 
earthen vessel, take off the skim a top oft times, and boyl it 

220 The Honey-Makers 

to its thickness. If it must be drunk presently, it must be 
made thin as water ; if it must be set up to keep, boyl it 
longer, till it be thick as a julep.. It is spiced at pleasure, 
with Ginger, Saffron, Galha, Moschata, Lignum aloes, &c. 
It is made also another way : of honey one pound, water 
eio-ht pounds, leaven three ounces ; put all in a wooden 
vessel, leaving three or four fingers empty that it may work 
the better : when it hath done working, stop the vessel and 
let it be well hoopt, and after three months it will be fit to 

Really tempting is the following beverage, which Mofifett 
calls the hydromel of ^Eginata. 

"Take the juice of bruised quinces five pounds, fountain 
water sexterii, boyl them till they grow soft, take them from 
the fire, let them cool, then strain them and crush out the 
Quinces and cast them away ; add to this water half honey, 
boyl it, scum it, till an eighth part be consumed : Some 
make it of sweet apples or pears the same way." 

The hydromel of the Muscovites was a malted liquor, 
and was thus made : — 

" Take of the decoction with hops twelve pounds, puri- 
fied honey scummed, pound and half, toasted bread strowed 
with flour of malt, one piece, put all into a wooden vessel 
well covered, and place it near a stool, take away the froth 
that riseth, twice a day, with a wooden skimmer that hath 
holes in it ; after ten dales set it up in your cellar, after 
fourteen dales drink it : They make it the same way in 
summer with fair water, and made this way they drink it 
in winter, and when they desire to be drunk. In Russ 
and English they call it Mede." 

The English had a malted hydromel of their own which 
Moffett highly commends. "Latety,"he says, "the Eng- 
lish found out a new composition of Hydromel, (they call 
it Varii) and serves better for ships than any Wine. 



" The preparation is this : 

" Take Barley torrefied after due steeping in water, what 
you please, boyl it long in five quarts of fountain water, till 
it taste well of the malt : one pound of this boyled with 
eight pounds of honey, and twenty pounds of water, makes 
a drink that tastes most sweet, and is most healthful for 

Oxymeli, a drink made from vinegar and honey, is de- 
scribed but not approved by Pliny. 

" Vinegar even has been mixed with honey ; nothing, in 
fact, has been left untried by man. 

"This mixture is compounded of ten pounds of honey, 
five semi-sextarii of old vinegar, one pound of sea-salt, and 
five sextarii of rain-water. This is boiled gently till the 
mixture has bubbled in the pot some ten times, after which 
it is drawn off and kept till it is old ; all these wines, how- 
ever, are condemned by Themison (as drinks no doubt ; 
and with good reason as to most of them !), an author of 
high authority. And really, by Hercules ! the use of them 
does appear to be somewhat forced, unless indeed we are 
ready to maintain that these aromatic wines are so many 
compounds taught us by Nature, as well as those that are 
manufactured of perfumes, or that shrubs and plants have 
been generated only for the purpose of being swallowed in 

Galen, however, did not despise honeyed vinegar, but 
gives a simple recipe for making it, unflavored by severe 
remarks : — 

" Let the best honey be clarified, then add so much wine- 
vinegar to it, that it may please the sick man's palate, boyl 
them till they are well mingled ; and when you will use it, 
mingle as much water as you please : it is boyled enough 
when it sends forth no more scum." 

" Honied wine " is frequently referred to by the ancient 

222 The Honey-Makers 

writers, who attribute remarkable properties of preserving 
life to it, and Pliny tells us : " Many persons have attained 
an extreme old age by taking bread soaked in honied 
wine, and no other diet — the famous instance of Pollio 
Romilius, for example. This man was more than one hun- 
dred years old when the late Emperor Augustus, who was 
then his host, asked him by what means in particular he 
had retained such remarkable vigor of mind and body. 
'Honied wine within, oil without,' was his answer." 

Honeyed wine is also called CEnomeh and mulsum, and 
Mofifett says : — 

"Aristseus was the first that brought this into Thrace, 
being taken with the incredible sweetness of Honey and 
Wine mingled together." 

Moffett also gives us a recipe for it : — 

" The new writers describe this potion thus, Take one 
gallon of the best Honey, six gallons of old Wine, Salt two 
ounces ; it must then be skimmed as it works, then put in 
the Salt, and season it with annise-seed and roots of Elecam- 
pane let down into the vessel with a bag. The Egyptians 
make it otherwise, namely of Raisins and Honey." 

There seems no end to the varieties of honeyed wine and 
other drinks made of honey which were used by the 
ancients, one Greek mulsum containing thirty-six ingredi- 
ents, and another kind being described as '' true nectar " 
wont to be made about Mount Olympus in Lydia, of " wine, 
bees-combs, and sweet flowers." 

The Usquebach of the Irish is made of honey, wine, and 
herbs, which beverage Moffett says is " not unfit for a nation 
that feeds on flesh raw, or but half sod." 

One should suppose the following classical drink, called 
thalassiomeli, might merit similar criticism. It is made of 
" equal parts of sea-water, rainwater and honey purified 
and set in the sun in a pitched vessel in the Dog-daies " I 

Mead 223 

Our old friend Butler caps the climax of these honeyed 
drinks by offering us one which we would do well to accept. 
The following is what he has to say about this remarkable 
'■' honey altered by distillation into a water, which Raimun- 
dus Lullius (that excellent chemist) called the quintessence 
of honey." 

"This quintessence dissolveth gold, and maketh it po- 
table ; likewise, any sort of precious stone that is put 
therein. It is of such virtue, that, if any be dying, and 
drink two or three drams thereof, presently he will revive. 
If you wash any wound therewith, or other sore ; it will 
heal quickly." 

Indeed, " of so marvellous efficacy is this water " that it 
will heal many diseases be they never so obstinate. 

Fortunately for the world of suffering humanity, the 
formula of this remarkable beverage has not been denied us. 
Butler says : — 

" The making of it is after this manner. Take two 
pounds of perfect pure honey, and distil it, when the 
receiver will contain a water of red color like blood." 
Keep the receiver tightly closed and let it stand until clear 
and of the color of a ruby. Then distil it in Balnea Maria 
seven times, when it will lose its reddish color and become 
as yellow as gold with an " exceeding pleasant smelL" 

Part II 

The Literature and History of 
the Bee 



The Latin writer Varro fancifully calls the bees the 
Birds of the Muses, thus paying a poet's tribute to the airy 
creatures that wing their way through the songs of many 
nations ; and nowhere is the title better deserved than in 
India, where from the earliest times the bees have been the 
winged darlings of the muses. 

Figuring largely in the religion as well as the poetry of the 
Hindus and constantly appearing in the accounts of the 
gods the bee is a delightful and omnipresent feature in 
Hindu literature. 

The " Vedas," the oldest literature of India, concerning 
themselves with the great forces of nature, and drawing 
their imagery mainly from the phenomena of the sky, are 
full of allusions to honey and the bee, which play their parts 
in the stately drama of men and gods. 

The word mad/m, honey, and other words compounded 
with it constantly occur. 

Honey, in the "Vedas," is intimately connected with 
the symbolism of the sun and the moon, but particularly 
of the moon. 


2 26 The Honey-Makers 

The two AsVins/ children of the sun and moon, spirits of 
the dawn, giving birth to the new day, demigods who con- 
cerned themselves with the welfare of man and gave him 
good gifts, bore honey in their three-wheeled chariot. 

In the old Hindu belief honey gave strength, wealth, 
good-fortune, knowledge, and offspring to man. 

In the "Rig-Veda," the fine invocations to the As'wins 
contain frequent references to the honey they bear, as is 
shown by the following : — 

" Aswins, men who desire to glorify you with their hymns, 
cause, as it were, their praises to be heard, propitiating you 
with oblations ; for, from you who are possessed of all 
opulence, they obtain every kind of wealth and abundant 
food. Dasras,^ the feUies of the wheels of your honey-laden 
car drop honey, carried in your golden car." 

"When, As'wins, you harness your bounty-shedding 
chariot, refresh our strength with trickhng honey : bestow 
abundant food upon our people : may we acquire riches in 
the strife of heroes." 

" May the three-wheeled cart of the As'wins, drawn by 
swift horses, laden with honey, three-canopied, filled with 
treasure, and every way auspicious, come to our presence, 
and bring prosperity to our people and our cattle." 

" Bring us, Aswins, vigour : animate us with your honied 
speech : prolong our existence ; wipe away our sins ; de- 
stroy our foes ; be ever our associates." 

" With those aids by which you defended Kris'ariu in 
battle, with which you succored the horse of the young 
Purukutsa in speed, and by which you deliver the pleasant 
honey to the bees ; with them, As'wins, come willingly 

1 Quotations from Hindu literature having been taken from vari- 
ous translators, the accents used are those of the translators quoted. 
- Another name for Aswins. 

In Hindu Literature 227 

Honey-colored, or resembling honey in purity and pellu- 
cidity, is a comparison more than once met with in the 
"■ Vedas," as in one of the hymns to the Maruts, the storm- 
gods or winds. 

" When, Maruts, flying like birds along a certain path of 
the sky, you collect the moving, passing clouds in the near- 
est portions of the firmament, then, coming into collision 
with your cars, they pour forth the waters ; therefore, do 
you shower upon your worshipper the honey-colored rain." 

Honey played an important part in the religious observ- 
ances of our Aryan forefathers, as we learn from the " Vedas " 
and from the " Sutras," or rituals for domestic ceremonies. 
Replete with poetry is that part of the marriage ceremony 
where the husband reciting the Vedic verse " Full of honey 
the herbs," ties to the body of his bride the madhuka 

And again, where the newly married husband kisses his 
wife : — 

"He then seeks her mouth with his mouth, with the two 
verses, — 

"'Honey! Lo ! Honey! This is honey! my tongue's 
speech is honey ; in ray raouth dwells the honey of the 
bee ; on my teeth dwells concord.' " 

Honey plays an important part in the ceremonies per- 
formed over a new-born child, as is shown by the com- 
mands of the " Sutras " : — 

" Let the father mix together butter and honey, milk, 
curds and water, or grind together rice and barley, and 
give it to eat to the child twice from gold (i. e., from a 
golden vessel or with a golden spoon)." 

While touching the tongue of the child with this food the 
father repeats the verse, — 

" I administer to thee honey food for the festival, the 
wisdom raised by Savitar the bountiful; long-Hving, pro- 

2 28 The Honey-Makers 

tected by the gods, live a hundred autumns in this world, 

N. N. ! " — and gives him a name. 

Although the " Sutras " compiled by different authors 
differ somewhat in detail, the use of honey at the birth of 
the child is almost always a part of the command, as wit- 
ness the following from another of the '' Sutras " : — 

"When a son has been born, the father should, before 
other people touch him, give him to eat from gold, butter 
and honey with which he has ground gold-dust, with the 
verse, — 

" ' I administer to thee the wisdom of honey, of ghee,^ 
raised by Savitri the bountiful, long-hving, protected by the 
gods, live a hundred autumns in this world ! ' " 

When a child is six months old the ceremony for feeding 
the first solid food is performed. Various substances, 
selected according to the future needs of the child, as, for 
instance, flesh of partridge, if the child is desirous of acquir- 
ing holy lustre, are mixed wifh milk, curds, honey and 
clarified butter and given to the child. 

''Such food, mixed with 'curds, honey and ghee, he 
should give to the child to eat with the verse, — 

" ' Lord of food, give us food painless and strong ; 
bring forth the giver ; bestow power on us, on men and 
animals.' " 

At the ceremony of the tonsure of the child's head it is 
to be observed that — 

" He pours cold water into warm with the verse, — 

" ' Mix yourselves, ye holy ones, with your waves, ye 
honied ones, mixing milk with honey, ye lovely ones, for 
the obtaining of wealth.' " 

The young man desiring to establish a family builds for 
himself a house, and when the post holes are dug he con- 
1 Clarified butter. 

In Hindu Literature 229 

secrates his dwelling in the following manner. Pouring 
water-gruel into the holes he recites, — 

" This branch of the immortal one I erect, a stream of 
honey, promoting wealth. The child, the young one, cries 
to it ; the cow shall low to it, the unceasingly fertile one." 

Putting an Udumbara branch which has been smeared 
with ghee into the pit for the right door post he recites, — 

" This branch of the world I establish, a stream of 
honey, promoting wealth. The child, the young one, cries 
to it ; the cow shall low to it that has a young calf" 

Thus does he proceed until all of the post holes have 
been similarly treated and the house has been consecrated 
and invoked to wealth and numerous offspring such as is 
bestowed by divine honey. 

Although the bees and their honey were eagerly sought 
after and the bees cultivated as domestic animals by the 
ancient Hindus, it seems that the voluntary entrance of a 
swarm into a house was looked upon with suspicion and 
the subject of such a visitation is enjoined thus : — 

" If the bees make honey in his house, — 

"Let him fast and sacrifice a hundred and eight pieces of 
Udumbara wood, which are besmeared with curds, honey 
and ghee, with the two verses, ' No harm to us in our 
offspring. ' 

" And let him murmur the hymn, ' For welfare may Tndra 
and Agni.' " 

Other sacrifices of wood have also to be made at different 
seasons to quit him of possible harm from his intruding 

Honey has a place in other domestic ceremonies, but 
plays its most celebrated role in the madhuparka offering, 
which is made upon various occasions but is most widely 
known in connection with the respectful reception of a 

230 The Honey-Makers 

Madhuparka, as the name implies, is a mixture of honey 

and curds. 

Its presentation is extremely ceremonious, and its recep- 
tion by the guest is accompanied by the recital of the most 
honeyed composition in Hindu, or any other, literature. 

The guest mixes the ingredients of the madhuparka 
three times from left to right with his thumb and his fourth 
finger, with the formula, — ■ 

" What is the honied, highest form of honey, which con- 
sists in the enjoyment of food, by that honied highest form 
of honey may I become highest, honied, and an enjoyer of 

He partakes of it three times with the formula, — 
" I eat thee for the sake of brilliancy, of luck, of glory, of 
power, and of the enjoyment of food." 

The gnest is enjoined in the " Siitras " not to eat the whole 
of the madhuparka, a dish of which the people were evi- 
dently very fond, but to pass on the remnant to some 
deserving neighbor, or to give it to a friend. 

The inmates of the house look at the madhuparka and 
murmur, " May Indra come thither." 

Mention of honey occurs over and over again in those 
parts of the books describing the sacrificial rites upon sacred 
days — of which the Hindu calendar was full. Upon one 
of these days, for instance, offerings were made thus : — 

'' Having cooked milk-rice for Indra he sacrifices it, 
mixed with curds, honey and ghee, to Indra, Indrani, the 
two Aswins, the full moon of Asvayuga, and to the 

At the ceremony of the cutting of the beard in the six- 
teenth year of his age the youth takes upon himself a vow 
which must be kept a year, a part of the vow being that he 
shall avoid eating honey and flesh. 

In Hindu Literature 231 

As we proceed from the earlier to the later Hindu writ- 
ings we notice a change. The old Vedic faith becomes 
displaced by beliefs less simple and more earthy. 

We find the gods multiplied in number and their offices 
grown involved and obscure. But the bees and their honey 
still occupy their old place in sacrifices and ceremonies. 
In fact, they too have advanced in complexity of office and 
are intimately connected with the godhead. 

Vishnu has come upon the scene and is the chief of the 
gods ; from him everything emanates ; he creates everything, 
he is everything. Vishnu the preserver, the creative force of 
nature, has closely associated with him the bee, which also 
represents the creative force in nature and is the symbol of 
the sweetness and the pain of love. 

Of the thousand names which Vishnu finally acquires 
madhava, honey born, or a descendant of niadhu, honey, 
is one, while madhuaii, destroyer of honey, is another. 

The great god of gods Vishnu himself is represented at 
times as a bee lying in the heart of a lotus flower. Vishnu 
is the god of the sun and the moon, and these also are 
symbohzed by the bee, which, as the dispenser of honey, 
represents the moon ; as the appropriator of honey, tlie 
sun. Honey is supposed to come from the moon, and is 
very frequently mentioned in connection with it in the old 
Hindu poems. 

When the lotus flower, the symbol of nature, opens, 
Vishnu the sun-god, the bee at its heart, awakens and goes 
forth. Light is born, life is born. 

The bee thus becomes the symbol of birth upon earth. 
Hence, and for other reasons, the use of honey at bridals 
and at the birth of a child. 

Thus the bee and its honey in Hindu mythology un- 
doubtedly belong to the sun myths, as is also shown in the 
stories of the bear. 

232 The Honey-Makers 

One of the impersonations of Vishnu is the bear, the 
madhuan, the destroyer of honey. 

Vishnu in his mystical role of existing in all things is at 
times his own destroyer. As the madhuan he leads to the 
destruction of the honey in the sacred honey forest. 

The bear despoils the bees, that is, Vishnu the sun, the 
day, overcomes Vishnu the moon, the night. 

But again the angry bees revenge themselves by killing 
the bear. That is, the bees, representing the moon or 
night, overcome the sun. 

Krishna and Brahma, the principal forms of Vishnu, are 
also hke him ??iadhava, born of honey, and Krishna is 
often portrayed with an azure bee upon his forehead, azure 
being the color of the sky, of the pure aerial spaces which 
the gods inhabit. 

Kama, the Hindu god of love, requires the help of the 
bees in performing the duties of his delicate and difficult 
office. In the " Puranas," the later Hindu books, Kama 
is represented as a beautiful youth who travels about through 
the three worlds accompanied by his lovely wife Rati, by 
the cuckoo, the humming-bee, spring personified, and gentle 

The bow he bears is sometimes made of sugar cane to 
symbolize the sweetness of love, and it is strung by a chain 
of bees, symbolizing the pain of love and also the source of 
sweetness; his arrows are tipped with flowers, the red 
mango blossom being the favorite, as it is also the favorite 
of the bees. 

The word madhukara means both bee and lover, and 
also means the moon. 

" The Puranas distribute the earth into seven concentric 
circles or rings each forming an annular continent, and be- 
ing separated from the next in succession by a circumam- 
bient ocean. These oceans vary also as to their constituent 

In Hindu Literature 233 

parts ; and besides seas of fresh and salt water, we have 
them of treacle, honey, milk and wine." 

The early Hindu world very closely resembled the 
Golden Age of the Greeks, as is described in a splendid 
passage in the '' Vishnu-Puraha." 

" The waters became solid, when he (the mighty 
Pi-fthu) traversed the ocean : the mountains opened him a 
path : his banner passed unbroken through the forest : the 
earth needed not cultivation ; and, at a thought, food was 
prepared : all kine were like the cow of plenty : honey was 
stored in every flower." 

In the later writings we find that honey has not lost its 
place in ceremonials, but as of old is used at bridals and is 
put upon the tongue of the new-born male child. 

It is also an important factor in the respectful reception 
of a guest. 

Honey is necessary at ancestral ceremonies, as we learn 
from the following : — 

" The flesh of the rhinoceros, Kalasaka (pot herb, sacred 
basil), and honey are, also, especial sources of satisfaction 
to those worshipped at ancestral ceremonies." 

" In former times, O king of the earth, this song of the 
Pitfis was heard by Ikshwaku, the son of Manu, in the 
groves of Kalapa. 

" ' Those of our descendants shall follow a righteous path, 
who shall reverently present us with cakes of Gaya. May 
he be born in our race, who shall give us, on the tliirteenth 
of Bhadrapada and Magha, milk, honey and clarified but- 
ter : or when he marries a maiden, or liberates a black bull, 
or performs any domestic ceremony agreeable to rule, ac- 
companied by donations to the Brahmans.' " 

The student learning the sacred books is prohibited the 
use of honey and flesh and to eat of these necessitates a 

2 34 The Honey-Makers 

One of the rights of the king is to collect as taxes from 
his subjects a sixth part of the honey they gather. 

And whosoever steals honey shall pay three times its 

The souls of men upon death transmigrate into the 
bodies of animals and very frequently into bees — if the 
men were wise and good enough to deserve such an 

We learn that upon his death, " One who has stolen 
honey becomes a gadfly." 

A householder in passing honey must turn his right side 
towards it, the same as when passing a deity. 

The householder must not eat all of the food set before 
him, " Unless it consist of sour milk, or honey, or clarified 
butter, or milk, or ground barley, or meat, or sweetmeats," 
these evidently being considered the necessaries of life. 

By giving clarified butter, honey or oil, the pious man 
becomes exempt from disease. 

While he who would be beautiful may become so by help 
of honey. 

" He who feeds on the Revati day of every month three 
Brahmanas with rice boiled in milk with sugar and mixed 
with honey and clarified butter, in order to please the god- 
dess Revati, obtains beauty." 

It is a very different form of religion, as we see, that 
the bees are called upon to witness in these later days. 
The stately march of the clouds and the heavenly phe- 
nomena which form the imagery of the " Vedas," are re- 
placed by earthly images. 

In the " Institutes of Vishnu " we read the following de- 
scription of the goddess of the Eart'h : — 

" Her eyes were similar to the leaves of the blue lotus 
(of which the bow of Kama, the god of love, is made) ; 
her face was radiant like the moon in the autumn season ; 

In Hindu Literature 235 

her locks were as dark as a swarm of black bees ; she was 
radiant ; her lip was red like the Bandhugiva flower ; and 
she was lovely to behold." 

A new literature in time sprang into being, but the charm 
of its nature pictures was still enhanced by the never-failing 
presence of the bees. 

Kalidasa, the greatest Hindu dramatist, in the sixth cen- 
tury, brought forth his delightful creations and sang the bee 
into innumerable and immortal love poems. 

Kalidasa's most popular drama, " Sakuntala, or the Lost 
Ring," would lose at least a part of its charm if deprived of 
the music of the bees. 

At the very opening, before the play begins, as was the 
custom, a singer delighted the audience with a song. 

" Fond maids, the chosen of their hearts to please, 
Intwine their ears with sweet Sirisha flowers. 
Whose fragrant lips attract the kiss of bees 

That softly murmur through the summer hours." 

One could almost follow the course of the story by the 
stanzas in which bees are mentioned. 

King Dushyanta riding in the forest comes upon the 
hermit's lovely daughter, Sakoontala, watering the flowers, 
and driving away a bee that tries to settle upon her face. 
Whereupon his majesty, gazing ardently upon her, thus 
expresses his feelings : — 

" Beautiful ! there is something charming even in her repulse. 
Where'er the bee his eager onset plies. 
Now here, now there, she darts her kindling eyes 
What Jove hath yet to teach, fear teaches now, 
The furtive glances and the frowning brow." 

In a tone of envy he continues : — 

" Ah, happy bee ! how boldly dost thou try 
To steal the lustre from her sparkling eye ; 

236 The Honey-Makers 

And in thy circling movements hover near, 

To murmur tender secrets in her ear ; 

Or, as she coyly waves her hand, to sip 

Voluptuous nectar from her lower lip ! 

While rising doubts my heart's fond hopes destroy, 

Thou dost the fulness of her charms enjoy." 

Sakoontala, reclining upon a couch of Hewers, requests 
the king to leave her, upon which she receives the ardent 
reply : — 

" When I have gently stolen from thy lips 
Their yet untasted nectar, to allay 
The raging of my thirst, e'en as the bee 
Sips the fresh honey from the opening bud." 

An early love of the king, fearing his disaffection, is 
heard to sing, — 

" How often hither did'st thou rove, 

Sweet bee, to kiss the mango's cheek 
Oh ! leave not then thy early love, 
The lily's honeyed lip to seek." 

The mango — " this tree the favorite of Love and the 
darling of the bees " — is a favorite of the poet as well, and 
"red mango buds " blush from nearly every page, while 
one seldom finds the mango without finding at the same 
time its companion and lover, the bee. The mango and 
the lotus vie with each other in the favor of the Hindu 
poet, and the bees linger lovingly about both of them. 

As the result of a curse, Dushyanta forgets his wife 
Sakoontala after he has married her and when she appears 
before him he exclaims : — 

" What charms are here revealed before mine eyes ! 
Truly no blemish mars the symmetry 
Of that fair form ; yet can I ne'er believe 
She is my wedded wife ; and like a bee 

In Hindu Literature 237 

That circles round the flower whose nectared cup 
Teems with the dew of morning, I must pause 
Ere eagerly I taste the proffered sweetness." 

The king warns the bee that hovers about the hps of 
Sakoontala's picture : — 

" Dost thou presume to disobey ? Now hear me — 
An thou but touch the lips of my beloved, 
Sweet as the opening blossom, whence I quaffed 
In happier days love's nectar, I will place thee 
Within the hollow of yon lotus cup, 
And there imprison thee for thy presumption." 

Kalidasa's " The Birth of the War God," is also rich in 
exquisite love songs, and through the whole is intertwined 
the song and the flight of the bee. 

The poet describes the love that Uma's father bears to 
her. She was to him what the mango blossom was to the 
bee. He loved her above all things, just as — 

" When spring-tide bids a thousand flowerets bloom, 
Loading the breezes with their rich perfume, 
Though here and there the wandering bee may rest, 
He loves his own — his darling mango — best." 

Uma is destined to become the bride of Siva, who has 
become a hermit, and all the forces of Kama, the god of 
love, his humming bees, his flowery shafts, his companion 
and helper Spring, are brought to bear upon the stern 
deity. In the hermit's grove. Spring, wondrous to behold, 
appears, to turn the hermit from his thoughts on things 

" There grew Love's arrow, his dear mango spray, 
Winged with young leaves to speed its airy way, 
And at the call of Spring the wild bees came, 
Grouping the syllables of Kama's name." 

Sweet wanton Spring : — 

238 The Honey-Makers 

"■ Who loves to tint his lip, the mango spray, 
With the fresh colors of the early clay, 
And powder its fine red with many a bee 
That sips the oozing nectar rapturously." 

" For there in eager love the wild bee dipped 
In the dark flower-cup, where his partner sipped." 

"no dweller of the forest stirred, 
No wild bee murmured, hushed was every bird." 

Surely it would be a strong hermit who could hold out 
against such forces, and when the lovely Uma herself ap- 
peared with her train of maidens the heart of the god was 
melted within him. 

The poet cannot sufficiently express her charms without 
telling us that — 

" A greedy bee kept hovering round to sip 
The fragrant nectar of her blooming lip. 
She closed her eyes in terror of the thief 
And beat him from her with a lotus leaf." 

Love, " the god of the flowery shafts," sent his arrow into 
Siva's heart, but the merciless deity, inflamed with anger, 
slew the gentle god of love with a glance of his eye. 

In a moment Kama was reduced to ashes, and we have 
the lament of Rati, his wife, the goddess of love. 

" Say, Kama, say, whose arrow now shall be 
The soft green shoot of thy clear mango tree, 
The favorite spray which Koils 1 love so well, 
And praise in sweetest strain its wondrous spell .'' 
This line of bees which strings thy useless bow 
Hums mournful echo to my cries of woe." 

Uma, refused by Siva, takes upon herself the most austere 
vows, and her mother fears for her daughter's strength in 
the performance of them, for — 

^ The Indian cuckoo. 

In Hindu Literature 239 

" The lily, by the wild bee scarcely stirred, 
Bends, breaks and dies beneath the weary bird." 

Although Uma has undertaken the life of a recluse in the 
forest we learn that — 

" Her matted hair was full as lovely now, 
As when 'twas braided o'er her polished brow. 
Thus the sweet beauties of the lotus shine 
When bees festoon it in a graceful line." 

Finally we find Uma triumphant and arranged for her 

" Less dazzling pure the lovely lotus shines 
Flecked by the thronging bees in dusky lines." 

The maidens fly to the windows to see the passing of Siva 
and his bride. 

" Oh ! what a sight! the crowded windows there 
With eager faces excellently fair, 
Like sweetest lilies, for their dark eyes fling 
Quick glances quivering like the wild bee's wing." 

" The murmur of the bee " is a constant accompani- 
ment to Hindu song and love-making, and the music of 
the bee at times vies with the song of the bird, or even with 
celestial music. 

In Kahdasa's " Hero and Nymph" the manager repeats 
before the play begins, — 

" What sounds are these in the air, that like the plaintive 
bleat of lambs, break in upon my speech? Was it the 
murmur of the bee or koiPs distant song, or do the nymphs 
of heaven as they pass above warble their celestial strains ? " 

Urvasi, a nymph of heaven, borne in the chariot of the 
hero Tururavas, of whom she has become enamoured, 
hearing him speak, says, — nectar here evidently mean- 
ing honey, — 

" Delightful words ! they fall like drops of nectar, 
Nor wonder nectar from the moon should flow." 

240 The Honey-Makers 

In the same drama of the " Hero and the Nymph " is the 
following invitation given to the king by his attendant, — 

" The bower of jasmines yonder with its slab of black 
marble is studded thick with blossoms, and the bees 
crowd about them in heaps ; it invites your majesty to 

There is nothing finer in all Kalidasa's three dramas 
than the search of King Puriiravas for his bride, Urvasi, 
who has fled from him in a pet and been changed into a 
vine. As he searches for her through the forests, strains are 
heard in the air. 

" The tree of heaven invites the breeze, 
And all its countless blossoms glow ; 
They dance upon the gale ; the bees 
With sweets inebriate, murmuring low, 
Soft music lend, and gushes strong 
The koiPs deep thick warbling song." 

The king, seeking his bride, calls upon the clouds and 
upon all the creatures he meets in exalted strains. Every- 
thing reminds him of his beloved, and finally he asks the 
bee to tell him where she is. 

" How beautiful the lotus ! — it arrests 
My path and bids me gaze on it — the bees 
Murmur amidst its petals — like the lip 
Of my beloved it glows." 

" Say, plunderer of the honeyed dew, hast thou 
Beheld the nymph whose large and languid eye 
Voluptuous rolls, as if it swam with wine ? 
And yet methinks 't is idle to inquire ; 
For had he tasted her delicious breath, 
He now would scorn the lotus. I will hence." 

Still pursuing his search the king sings, likening his be- 
loved to the sacred river Ganges : — 

In Hindu Literature 241 

" Be not relentless, dearest, 

Nor wroth with me forever. 
I mark where thou appearest 
A fair and mountain river. 

" Like Ganga proud thou showest. 
From heavenly regions springing; 
Around thee, as thou flowest. 

The birds their course are winging. 

" The timid deer confiding, 

Thy flowery borders throng ; 

And bees, their store providing. 

Pour forth enraptured song." 

Coming upon the vine into which the nymph has been 
changed, the king pauses, filled with a strange emotion, and 
addresses the now flowerless vine, — 

" No bees regale her with their songs ; silent 

And sad, she lonely shows the image 
Of my repentant love, who now laments 

Her causeless indignation. I will press 
Th,e melancholy likeness to my heart." 

In his embrace the vine changes into the nymph and he 
sings in a very different mood, — 

" I have sued to the starry-plumed bird, 

And the k6il of love-breathing song; 
To the lord of the elephant herd, 

And the bee as he murmured along; 
To the swan, and the loud waterfall, 

To the chakwa, the rock and the roe. 
In thy search have I sued them all. 

But none of them lightened my woe." 

In the drama of the " Toy Cart," written by ^udraka, the 
most Shakespearian of the Hindu dramatists, and contem- 
porary with Kalidasa, we find the verse more dignified, if 
less graceful, and the bee as much a favorite as ever. 


242 The Honey-Makers 

Charudatta, a Brahman who has impoverished himself 
by his munificence, says to his friend, — 

" I do not, trust me, grieve for my lost wealth : 

But that the guest no longer seeks the dwelling, 
Whence wealth has vanished, does, I own, afflict me. 
Like the ungrateful bees, who wanton fly 

The elephant's broad front, when thick congeals 
The dried-up dew, they visit me no more." 

In the same play in the description of a house of many 
courts we read the following : — 

" The flute here breathes the soft hum of the bee, whilst 
here a damsel holds the vina in her lap, and frets its wires 
with her finger-nails ; some damsels are singing like so 
many bees intoxicated with flowery nectar ; others are 
practising the graceful dance, and others are employed in 
reading plays and poems. The place is hung with water 
jars, suspended to catch the cooling breeze." 

" How bravely the old garden looks," says Charudatta's 
servant as he conducts his master hither, and Charudatta 
replies : — 

" 'T is true ; like wealthy merchants are the trees 

Who spread in clustering flowers the choicest wares ; 
Amongst them lustily the bees are straying 
To gather tribute for the royal hive." 

Charudatta, in court, accused of murder, says: — 

" When first the flower unfolds, as flock the bees 
To drink the honeyed dew, so mischiefs crowd 
The entrance opened by man's falling fortune." 

Defending himself later, he says : — 

" For me — you know me — would I pluck a flower, 
I draw the tender creeper gently to me. 
Nor rudely rob it of its clustering beauty. 
How think you then ? — could I with violent hands 
Tear from their lovely seat those jetty locks. 
More glossy than the black bee's wing ? " 

In Hindu Literature 243 

In the " Stolen Marriage," a drama written somewhat 
later by Bhavabhuti, "he in whose throat eloquence re- 
sides," we have the same sensuous imagery, the beauty and 
delight of nature enhanced by the murmur of the bees : 

" I went 

To Kamadeva'si temple, where I strayed, 

Till weary I reclined beside a fountain 

That laves the deep roots of a stately tree, 

Whose clustering blossoms wooed the wanton bees 

To cull their sweet inebriating fragrance. 

Lulled by their songs and tempted by the shade, 

I laid me down, and in pure idleness, 

To while away the time, I gathered round me 

The new fall'n blossoms, and assiduous wove 

A flowery garland." 

In "The Necklace," the king's confidential companion 
leads him to the garden. 

" This is the place, sir. Behold the rich canopy of the 
pollen of the mango blossoms, wafted above our heads 
by the southern breeze, and the chorus bursts from the 
kdils and the bees to hail your approach." 

The king replies : — 

"The garden is now most lovely. The trees partake 
of the rapturous season ; their new leaves glow like coral, 
their branches wave with animation in the wind, and their 
foliage resounds with the blythe murmurs of the bee. The 
bakula blossoms lie around its roots like ruby wine ; the 
champaka flowers blush with the ruddiness of youthful 
beauty ; the bees give back in harmony the music of the 
anklets, ringing melodiously as the delicate feet are raised 
against the stem of the Asaka tree." ^ 

1 Kamadeva, god of love. 

2 The Asaka tree was believed to burst into blossom if touched 
by the foot of a beautiful woman. 

244 The Honey-Makers 

The Lover s Song to his Beloved 

" Come, love, thou puttest the night to shame. The 
beauty of the moon is eclipsed by the loveliness of thy 
countenance, and the lotus sinks humbled into shade ; 
the sweet songs of thy attendant damsels discredit the 
murmur of the bees, and, mortified, they hasten to hide 
their disgrace within the flowery blossom." 

In the prose romances written by Bana in the seventh 
century we find the wildest extravagance of speech, which 
is far less pleasing to Western readers than the rich, sensu- 
ous, but saner work of the poet Bhavabhiiti and of the early 
writers. Still, there are some beautiful passages and the 
bees continue as omnipresent as ever, as witness the first 
part of the following, taken from the description of a 
sunset in the " Harsa-Carita " : — 

" Fragrant with the scent of their own honey, the night- 
lotus beds, to the joy of the bees, commenced to open, like 
umbrellas of water nymphs, seraglio mansions for the wives 
of the feathered tribes." 

The bees have " sung their sweet songs " often enough 
in the quotations already given to establish their rights as 
vocal musicians, but Bana is not content to let them sing, 
they must also play upon the lyre, and we are told in the 
" Harsa-Carita " of a certain king that — 

" He was listening like one skilled in music to lute- 
players, to the tribes of bees in his ear-rings, which with 
restless feet played a tiny lyre consisting of the end of his 
ear-ring jewel with the web of its rosy rays for strings." 

Bana tells us of a king from whose "ear-wreath, as 
he bent down, bees flew away Hke departing sins all 
uprooted by Siva worship." 

And thus of a queen : — 

"She was honey in converse, ambrosia to those who 

In Hindu Literature 245 

sought delight, rain to her servants, beatitude to her friends, 
bamboo-hke to her elders." 

In a description of beautiful women Bana tells us 
that — 

" Tribes of bees, attracted by their breath, are their 
beauteous veils." 

The attraction of the bees by a sweet breath is a favorite 
theme with the later writers, and Bana gives us the follow- 
ing charming description of a bride : — 

" A fragrance of flowers breathed about her, as if she 
had come forth from the heart of spring. The perfume 
of her breath attracted the bee tribes, as if she were sprung 
from the Malaya breeze." 

In the folk-songs, too, and in the fables the bee is not 
wanting. From the "Samadeva" we get the following de- 
lightful picture of the man who thinks only of the pleasures 
of the moment : — 

" A traveller, who had slept in a tree in a forest, upon 
waking saw beneath him a crouching lion, and above him a 
great hissing boa. In terror he knew not which way to turn. 

" Thereupon there trickled down to him from abee's-nest 
built in the tree beautiful honey. He tasted it and — 
straightway forgot his danger ! " 

" A hunter sold to a merchant a honey-comb. A drop of 
honey fell from it to the floor. The merchant's cat licked 
it up. 

" The hunter's dog bit and killed the cat. 

" The merchant, angered at the death of his beloved cat, 
struck the dog. 

" Then the hunter and the merchant fell upon each other. 
At the outcry the neighbors hastened thither and there 
ensued a general fight. They fought and slew each other 
until all lay dead on the ground — and all on account of 
a drop of honey ! " 


The Honey-Makers 

A story analogous to the one of not counting your 
chickens before they are hatched also occurs in the Hindu 
tales, with the bee instead of the young girl for the victim, 
and has been thus delightfully translated : — 

" The Bee's Dream 

" * Night will quickly pass, fair will be the dawn ; the sun 
will rise in beauty, and the glorious lilies will unfold them- 
selves.' While a bee sleeping in a flower thus dreamed, 
came, alas ! an elephant and crushed it as it lay." 

One could go on indefinitely culling allusions to the bee 
from Hindu literature. 

Nowhere has it played so constant and so pleasing a 
part in the poetry of a people. 

This, no doubt, is in part owing to the universal presence 
of the bee throughout the whole of that mysterious and 
luxuriant country. 

Wild bees everywhere in India build their combs and 
store their honey in the open air, and to-day the honey 
of the wild bee is gathered and prized as it was in all 
former times. 

To-day honey is used at sacrifices and other domestic 
ceremonies, and plays an important part at the wedding 
and at the birth of a child. 


The most fascinating records of the Egyptian bees are to 
be found in the hieroglyphics, those picture-writings that 
furnish the principal part of what we know concerning 
ancient Egypt. 

As long ago as the fourth dynasty, nearly four thousand 
years b.c, the bee figured in the symbolical history of 
Egypt, for when under the reign of Menes the country was 
divided into Upper and Lower Egypt, the bee was the 
symbol of Lower or Southern Egypt, while the lotus was the 
symbol of the Upper or Northern country. 

It is a quaint bee and a quaint lotus that play their parts 
for centuries as symbols in the history of the Land of the 
Nile. nuA, 

The lotus and the bee r!f «^ standing side by side 

before the names of the kings signify jurisdiction over both 
parts of the country, and the bee alone, while it some- 
times means a king, is also employed to express a people 
loyal and industrious, the following being the delightful sign 

for the country of Lower Egypt. ( 


It is of interest to know that the bee as the symbol of 
kingly power appears upon the hieroglyphical portion of 
the famous Rosetta Stone. 

The pleasing cartouche of Chufu, king of Upper and 

Lower Egypt, illustrates the — _ _^ 

method of inscribing a king's 1^ f #^ Kr:^ ^)^ 

248 The Honey-Makers 

Next in importance to the kingly office was oftentimes 
the office of the keeper of the treasury, and his title 
also contains the form of the royal and industrious bee, 

thus : *|f^^ 

That the bee figured in the religious beliefs of the 
ancient Egyptians would seem to be indicated by its 

presence in the symbol ,'^ ^ denoting one of the 
priestly orders, and also in that denoting one of this 

order of priests, ^j 

The word '•' substance " •^iF'^h likewise contains 
the figure of the bee, while of the signs meaning " ser- 


pent " W \jif «L one is the bee. 

The sign for the arrow ^yjiJr' ^'so contains the bee, 

the reason for which would seem to be sufficiently obvi- 
ous, even though it does occur in Egyptian hieroglyphics. 
Here, as in Hindu, and many other literatures, the bee is 

found associated with death 

shown by its presence in the symbol of the bier ; while 
honey itself is expressed thus : Xiffi^ 

Maspero lets us into some of the secrets of Egyptian 
honey by telling us that, of the pigments used in picture- 

In Egypt and the East 249 

making, " the white is made of gypsum, mixed with albu- 
men and honey," and also that the smallest of the perfume 
vases ''were not intended for liquids, but for pomades, 
medicinal ointments, and salves made with honey," which, 
in conjunction with the perfumed pills that we learn were 
made in part of honey and " when chewed by women 
made the breath of their mouth sweet," gives us an in- 
sight into the manners of the Egyptian ladies somewhat 
at variance with the non-frivolous impression they create 
by their unsmiling visages cut in stone or painted on their 

Piercing as best we can the dim vistas of the past into 
the ancient life of Egypt, we find the bee, so surrounded by 
the mysteries and the silences of that strange world that we 
are puzzled to know all that it stood for in the minds of 
the people. 

It is not here the frank symbol of the sun and the moon 
so charmingly expressed by the ancient Hindus, and yet 
there are hints, dim and vague, of a similar meaning 
accorded to it. 

Virgil refers the story of the generation of bees from the 
body of the sacrificial bull to Egypt. This story is very 
wide-spread and no doubt is symbolical of the resurrection 
of the soul after the death of the body. In his fourth 
" Georgic," Virgil thus describes the generation of bees 
from the dead animal : — 

" But if the whole stock should suddenly fail any one, 
and he should have no means to recover a new breed, it 
is time both to unfold the memorable invention of the 
Arcadian master, and how the tainted gore of bullocks 
slain has often produced bees. I will disclose the whole 
tradition, tracing it high from its first source ; for where the 
happy nation of Pelkiean Canopus inhal)it the banks of the 
Nile, floating the plains with his overflowing river, and sail 


250 The Honey-Makers 

around their fields in painted gondolas, and where the 
river, that rolls down as far as ft'om the swarthy Indians, 
presses on the borders of quivered Persia, and fertiles ver- 
dant Egypt with black silt, and pouring along divides itself 
into seven different mouths, all the country grounds infal- 
lible relief on this art. First, a space of ground of small 
dimensions, and contracted for this purpose, is chosen; 
this they strengthen with the tiling of a narrow roof and 
confined walls, and add four windows of slanting light in 
the direction of the four winds. Then a bullock, just bend- 
ing the horns in his forehead, two years old, is sought out ; 
whilst he struggles exceedingly they close up both his 
nostrils and the breath of his mouth ; and when they have 
beaten him to death, his battered entrails are crushed within 
the hide, that remains entire. When dead they leave him 
pent up, and lay under his sides fragments of boughs, 
thyme, and fresh cassia. This is done when first the 
zephyrs stir the waves, before the meadows blush with new 
colors, before the chattering swallow suspends her nest upon 
the rafters. Meanwhile the juices, warmed in the tender 
veins, ferment ; and animals, wonderful to behold, first 
short of their feet, and in a little while buzzing with wings, 
swarm together, and more and more take to the thin air, 
till they burst away like a shower poured from summer 
clouds, or like an arrow from the whizzing string, when 
the swift Parthians first begin the fight." 

It has been suggested, in explanation of the wide-spread 
belief that bees were generated in dead bodies, that flies 
were confounded with bees by the ancient naturalists, who 
therefore believed that bees, like flies, were born from car- 
rion. The old name given in England to the bee, the 
honey fly, gives force to the suggestion, as also the fact that 
the North American Indians called the honey bee the 
white man's fly — showing how generally the two insects 
have been confused with each other. 


In Egypt and the East 251 

We search Egypt in vain for the graceful and sensuous 
imagery of the Hindus. There are Egyptian love-songs, 
but the voice of the bee is not in them. Varro's " birds " 
were not the beloved companions of rural scenes, and if 
they wove their dark lines across the face of the lotus in 
Egypt, we are not informed of it. The nearest we come to 
an appreciation of the bee in Egyptian poetry is in the 
following : — 

" On the festival day of the garden, that is, on the day 
when the garden was in full bloom, the wild fig-tree calls 
the maiden to come into the shade of the fig-leaves as a 

" The little sycamore^ 
Which she planted with her hand, 
She begins to speak, 
And her words are as drops of honey." 

We know that honey was valued in sacrificial rites. 

From the great papyrus of Rameses III., in which he 
gives full details of all he had done for the temples of his 
country during his reign of thirty-one years, we learn that 
the following payments of sacrificial funds were made from 
the royal treasury : — 

331,702 jars of incense, honey, and oil. 

3,100 uten of wax. 

1,933,766 jars of incense, honey, fat, oil, etc. 

According to Brugsch Bey, an inscription on a tomb in 
the necropolis of Abydos in Middle Egypt reads thus : 

"The king appoints that a sum of three and a half 
pounds of silver from the treasury of the temple of Osiris 
be given annually in order to cover a daily demand for one 
measure of honey to be used at the ceremony of the wor- 
ship of the dead for his beloved Naromantha." 

1 Wild fig-tree. 

252 The Honey-Makers 

Brugsch also describes a contract in which it is stated : 

" I take you to wife and bind myself to furnish to you 
annually twelve pots of honey." 

We know that honey was a common ingredient of the 
medicines of the Egyptians, and that it was added to the 
most obnoxious compounds, as of lizard's blood, teeth of 
swine, putrid meat and stinking fat, the moisture from pig's 
ears, and excreta of all kinds. 

Some of the old remedies, however, were far from objec- 
tionable, as, for instance, the following : — 

To draw blood from a wound, take of wax, fat, date- 
wine, honey, and boiled horn each one part. 

It was considered really strengthening to the hair to 
anoint it with the tooth of a donkey crushed in honey! 

Bees were carefully cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, 
who had floating apiaries, or boats bearing hives, that as- 
cended the Nile, and drifted slowly down, following the 
blossoming of the plants along the banks as the annual 
inundation receded. 

This custom still prevailed in modern times, as the writ- 
ings of travellers testify. Barges or flatboats proceeded 
up the river, gathering the hives of the villages as they 
went, and after a migration of two or three months returned 
the laden hives to their owners. 

It is probable that the ancient bees are the progenitors 
of those found in Egypt to-day, gray-haired with two bright 
orange bands on the large end of the abdomen — very yel- 
low and very cross. 

In one author we read the following concerning bee- 
keeping in ancient Egypt : — 

"To the garden department belonged the care of the 
bees, which were kept in hives very much like our own. 
Honey was thought of great importance, both for house- 
hold purposes and for an offering to the gods." 

In Egypt and the East 253 

It is said tliat tlie dead were occasionally preserved in 
honey, which seems to have been a common practice in 
some other countries, and Plutarch tells us the following of 
Agesilaus, who on his way home from Egypt was ship- 
wrecked and perished on a desert shore of Africa : — 

" It was the custom of the Spartans to bury persons of 
ordinary rank in the place where they expired, when they 
happened to die in a foreign country, but to carry the 
corpses of their kings home. And as the attendants of 
Agesilaus had fiot honey to preserve the body, they em- 
balmed it with melted wax, and in this way conveyed it 
to Lacedoemon." 

Whether the practice of embalming with honey was 
learned in Egypt or in some other country is not 

It certainly was not the ordinary custom of the Egyptians 
to preserve their dead in honey, though there are stories of 
its being occasionally done^ as witness the following : — 

" Abdallatif, whom we have so often quoted, gives some 
additional information about mummies which is well worth 

"Besides the mummies that were found in wood and 
stone coffins, he speaks of others found in vessels of 

" ' A man of veracity,' says the Doctor, ' assured me that 
he and his friends, while looking for treasures near the 
pyramids, found a vessel well sealed, which they opened 
and discovered to contain honey. While they were tasting • 
it, one of them remarked a hair that stuck to his finger ; 
he pulled it and they saw a child appear, with all its limbs 
adhering together, its body quite fresh and ornamented 
with jewels.' " 

Turning from this rather ghastly pot of honey to that 
most delightful of ancient historians, Herodotus, we listen 

254 The Honey-Makers 

with interest to his description of a part of the ceremony 
by which sacrifices were prepared in Egypt : — 

" When they have flayed their steer they pray, and when 
their prayer is ended, they take the paunch of the animal 
out entire, leaving the intestines and the fat inside the 
body ; they then cut off the legs, the end of the loins, the 
shoulders, and the neck ; and having so done, they fill the 
body of the steer with clean bread, honey, raisins, figs, 
frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatics. Thus filled they 
burn the body, pouring over it great quantities of oil." 

We also hear from the same author of four wax figures 
that were put into a body that was being embalmed. 

Wax was used for embalming purposes in different parts 
of the East, and Herodotus tells us the following : — 

When a king of Scythia dies " they dig a large square 
hole in the ground ; and having prepared this, they take 
up the corpse, having the body covered with wax, the 
belly opened and cleaned, filled with bruised cypress, in- 
cense, and parsley and anise-seed, and then sewn up again, 
and carry it in a chariot to another nation." 

To-day, as of old, Egypt prizes her bees, and we learn 
that — 

" Bees are kept in Egypt, and their honey is much 
prized by the inhabitants, who usually eat it in a clarified 
state. It is inferior to that of England, and also to the 
famous Greek honey." 

Arabia, with her wonderful " Nights," her gardens full of 
flowers, and her ever-recurring references to " sweet-meats," 
was wefl acquainted with the bee and made much use of 
its honey, but scant praise does the honey-maker itself re- 
ceive from the chroniclers of that land of delights, — the 
home of Aladdin and the Afrits. 

The murmur of the bee does not make musical the lit- 
erature of Arabia. Where references occur they are almost 

In Egypt and the East 255 

always to the honey instead of to the bee, and are usually in 
a moralizing rather than a poetical vein, as in the following 
we are informed that — 

"He falls more easily than flies fall into honey;" and 
again : " The lazy is not fed on honey." 

The following, though more elaborate, is equally moraliz- 
ing : — 

" Nor want, nor weakness still conspires 
To bind us to a sordid state ; 
The fly that with a touch expires 
Sips honey from the royal plate." 

In the " Assemblies of Al Hariri " we read the following 
description of a false friend given by the queer old repro- 
bate philosopher, Abu Zayd : — 

" I had a neighbor whose tongue cajoled, while his heart 
was a scorpion ; whose speech was a honey-comb to refresh, 
while his hidden thought was a concentrated venom." 

In Firdusi's " Epic of Kings," where Zal, the king's son, 
falls in love with Rudabeh, daughter of the accursed 
Serpent race, we learn that the attendants did not dare 
speak, — 

" For there was none of them that listed to mingle 
poison in the honey of this love." 

Again, the Turkish army having been defeated, the son 
of the defeated king blames his father for having under- 
taken the war, as the Persian army was so strong, — 

" For the world is not delivered of the race of Irij, and 
the noxious poison hath not been converted into honey." 

From the " Divan " of Hafiz we get the following : — 

" At her tyranny, I grieve not. For, without the thorn, 
The rose, none obtaineth ; without the sting, the honey." 

This is a favorite idea with the poets of many nations, 
and Hafiz again uses it in one of his odes : — 

256 The Honey-Makers 

" At harshness I have ceased to grieve, for none to light can bring 
A rose that is apart from thorns, or honey void of sting." 

We miss in all this that simple joy in the flowers and bees 
that makes the Hindu literature so charming, and yet the 
saying of the Bedouins, when they wish to describe a 
region or a kingdom blessed by nature, that its inhabitant 
" sleeps with his mouth at a honey bottle," is sufficient 
proof of the estimation in which honey was held. And 
travellers tell us that to-day the Arab offers his guest a 
bowl of milk and a honeycomb for refreshment. 

In the *' Koran " too the sixteenth chapter is entitled 
"The Bee," and in it occurs the following address made 
by God to the bee, this creature being honored above all 
others by a direct command from the Lord : — 

"The Lord spoke by inspiration with the bee, saying, 
' Provide thee houses in the mountains and in the trees, 
and of those materials wherewith men build hives for thee ; 
then eat of every kind of fruit, and walk in the beaten paths 
of thy Lord.' There proceedeth from their bellies a liquor 
of various colors, wherein is a medicine for men. Verily 
here is a sign unto people who consider." 

In the rose gardens of Persia, we miss the murmur of the 
bee as we miss it in Arabia. In Saadi's " Gulistan," or " Rose 
Garden," where from the name one anticipates all delight of 
flower and insect life, one finds the roses are rather orna- 
ments of the mind, and the bee does not appear among 
these dignified blossoms excepting as an instrument to 
point a moral, as for instance : — 

" A learned man without practice is a bee without 

And again, — 

" Of honey hath the sire a plenteous store ; 
But the son 's feverish and must not have more." 

which, we are told, being interpreted means, " Our Heavenly 

In Egypt and the East 257 

Father has store of blessings ; but man needs chastisement 
rather than indulgence." 

The Persian sun god, Mithra, symbolizing the creative 
force in nature, is sometimes represented accompanied by 
bees ; in some instances a bee is seen issuing from his mouth ; 
and honey is used in the mysteries of Mithra by the priests 
of all degrees. The hands of novices are washed in honey 
mingled with water, by which they are purified, and the 
hands of those in the highest degree of the order are 
washed in pure honey. The bull and the lion, so often 
occurring in the solar myths of Mithra and the bee, give a 
hint of the wide-spread belief of the origin of the bees from 
the body of a slain bull. 

In spite of the neglect suffered by the bee in Persian 
literature, we know that even to this day honey is valued in 
Persia, and that few of the villages are without their basket 
hives which yield a delicate and delicious honey. 

Concerning the habit imputed to Persia of embalming 
her dead in the products of the bee, Herodotus tells us : 

'' The Persians cover a body with wax and then place it 
in the ground ; " and Strabo says their mode of burial is to 
smear the bodies over with wax, and then to inter them. 
Again he says of the Assyrians, in reference to their having 
many rites in common with the Persians, that they put their 
dead in honey, after having smeared them with wax. 

" That the ancient Persians embalmed the bodies of their 
great men is believed by competent judges, and a Persian 
writer says that the substance called artificial mummy is 
found in those stone vessels in which the bodies of great 
men were preserved by means of honey. " 

China, like Persia, ignores the bees, not only in her love- 
songs, but in her literature generally, although she is the 
" flowery kingdom " and all her literature is abloom with 


258 The Honey-Makers 

her cherry blossoms, her plums, and her beautiful gar- 
dens, which to this day are the admiration of all who visit 
her. But she has not the Hindu love for the murmuring 
bees with their " ecstatic songs " and their nectar-inebriated 

The bee was sacred to " Diana of the Ephesians," whose 
magnificent temple at Ephesus was one of the seven 
wonders of the world. Her priestesses were called 
" bees," and the chief priest was " the king bee." 

This " Diana," or Atargatis, as she was called by the 
Ephesians, was of Babylonian origin. She was the goddess 
of war and of love, and is represented in her later form with 
many breasts, — a frank expression of the creative principle 
with which the bee is so often found associated. 

"The bee is employed on Hittite gems, and a gem 
found near Aleppo represents Atargatis standing on the 

Nymphs in the form of bees are said to have revealed to 
the Ephesians the site for their city. 

Of Eastern peoples the Hebrews next to the Hindus 
recognize the bee in literature. In the "Talmud" we find 
in the chapter of the " Fives " the following reference to 
honey, which, though forming but a small proportion of the 
heaven-sent manna, is not wholly excluded : — 

"Five things have in them a sixtieth part of five other 
things : fire, honey, the Sabbath, sleep, and dreams. 
Fire is a sixtieth of hell, honey a sixtieth of manna, the 
Sabbath a sixtieth of the rest in the world to come, 
sleep the sixtieth of death, and a dream the sixtieth of 

But it is in the Bible that we find the dramatic and 
poetical possibilities of the bee most fully appreciated. 

Moses, addressing the children of Israel, rehearses to them 

In Egypt and the East 259 

their defeat by the Amorites because they went to war 
against the command of God. 

" And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, 
came out against you and chased you, as bees do, and 
destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah." 

We have aheady heard of tlie bees attacking and defeating 
armies and depopulating villages in the East, and no doubt 
the sting of the tropical bee is a matter to put armies to rout. 

In the beautiful imagery of the Psalms, the bee is likened 
to hostile nations. 

" All nations compassed me about : but in the name of 
the Lord will I destroy them. 

" They compassed me about ; yea, they compassed me 
about : but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them. 

" They compassed me about like bees ; they are quenched 
as the fire of thorns : for in the name of the Lord I will 
destroy them." 

The Hebrews, like the Hindus, believed that honey 
bestowed knowledge, as is shown in the following verse : 

" Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to 
refuse the evil and choose the good." 

The high regard in which honey was held is well ex- 
pressed in the following : — 

" My son, eat thou honey, because it is good ; and the 
honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste : so shall the knowl- 
edge of wisdom be unto the soul." 

Concerning prophecy and honey, of which we hear so 
much in the Greek and Latin myths, we have in Hebrew 
the prophetess Deborah, who foretold the downfall of 
Sisera, Deborah in Hebrew meaning " a bee." 

The word of God is compared to honey in the Psalm 
where David exclaims : — 

''■ How sweet are thy words unto my taste ! Yea, 
sweeter than honey to my mouth." 

26o The Honey-Makers 

And again, — 

" The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous 
altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, 
than much fine gold : sweeter also than honey and the 

In Proverbs we are told, '' Pleasant words are as honey- 
comb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." 

Jacob, sending his sons to Egypt to buy food, enjoins them 
to gain the favor of the governor by taking him a present : 

" Take of the best fruits of the land in your vessels, and 
carry down the man a present, a little balm and a little 
honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds." 

Thus is clearly shown that honey was considered one of 
the choice gifts of the land, as again, in the Book of the 
Kings, where Jeroboam sends his wife to the prophet he 
bids her : — 

"And take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a 
cruse of honey, and go to him." 

Honey too was one of the gifts brought to David's army 
as he was encamped in the wilderness. 

The manna gathered by the Childi'en of Israel in the 
wilderness was delicious to the hungry people, " and the 
taste of it was like wafers made with honey." 

The Children of Israel brought as an offering to the 
temples of the Lord, " in abundance, the first-fruits of corn, 
wine and oil, and honey." 

Honey, however, could not be used in sacrifices for it is 
commanded : — 

" Ye shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering 
of the Lord made by fire." 

It has been by some explained that honey was prohib- 
ited as a burnt-offering because it, like leaven, caused 
fermentation to take place when mixed with flour ; and 
again, the heathen used honey in their sacrifices, a valid 

In Egypt and the East 261 

reason for its prohibition by the Hebrews. Moreover, honey 
was sometimes used as a symbol for carnal pleasure, and 
bees are classed as " unclean " animals, that is, it is in- 
directly forbidden to eat them. 

But while honey may not be used as a burnt-offering, it 
is very acceptable as an offering of first-fruits because 
these were not sacrificed, but went to the nourishment of 
the priests. 

The punishment of the wicked is that " he shall not see 
the rivers, the floods, the brooks, of honey and butter." 

Honey, in Palestine as in India, was found in clefts in 
the rocks and in the trunks of trees, and honey in the 
rock is more than once referred to in the Bible, as in the 
Psalm where the Lord complains of the disobedience of 
the Children of Israel and declares what he would have 
done for them had they deserved it : — 

'' He [Jehovah] should have fed them also with the finest 
of the wheat : and with honey out of the rock should I 
have satisfied thee." 

The Lord thus addresses Jerusalem : — 

"Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver, and thy 
raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work ; thou 
didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil ; and thou wast ex- 
ceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom." 

And blames the people for setting up images : — 

" My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour and oil and 
honey wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before 
them for a sweet savour." 

The Lord, describing Tyrus, says : " Judah, and the lamb 
of Israel, they were thy merchants ; they traded in thy 
market wheat of Minnith and Pannag, and honey, and 
oil, and balm." 

In the Book of the Judges we read how Samson found 
the honey in the carcass of the young lion he had himself 

262 The Honey-Makers 

slain. It is not stated that the bees had their origin in 
the dead body of the Hon, though if that is meant we 
have here a trace of the superstition beheved by the 
Greeks and by them referred to Egypt, that the bee 
comes from the body of a slain bull. 

In Samson's case the finding of honey and subsequent 
expounding of his riddle, " Out of the eater came forth 
meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness." was 
fraught with direful consequences, resulting as it did in the 
slaying of thirty men. 

Palestine is frequently referred to as a land flowing with 
milk and honey. In this way is expressed its extreme 
fertihty and desirability as a place of abode, and it reminds 
us of the Arabic figure of fertility, — a man with his mouth 
to a honey-bottle. 

The " chosen people " were frequently fed upon honey, 
and thus did the Lord provide for Jacob : — 

" He made him ride on the high places of the earth, 
that he might eat the increase of the fields ; and he made 
him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the 
flinty rock." 

The food of John the Baptist while sojourning in the 
wilderness was locusts and wild honey, quite an epicurean 
diet could one but overcome an unreasonable occidental 
prejudice against ''locusts." 

When Christ had risen from the dead he appeared to 
his disciples and asked for food. 

"And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and 
of an honey-comb. And he took it and did eat before 

In the mystical language of the Revelation we read the 
following : — 

"And I went unto the angel and said unto him, 'Give 
me the little book.' And he said unto me, ' Take it and 

In Egypt and the East 263 

eat it up ; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall 
be in thy mouth sweet as honey.' 

" And I took the litde book out of the angel's hand, and 
ate it up ; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey." 

The following is a description of Palestine by a Sanebat 
from Egypt, the time supposed to be some 2500 years b. c. : 

" There were figs and grapes ; its wine was more plen- 
tiful than water ; abundant was its honey, many were its 
oil-trees, and all fruits were upon its trees ; there, too, was 
barley and spelt, and cattle of all kinds without end." 

Palestine may be less of a garden than in those days, 
still, flowers and bees abound there, and the bees of the 
Holy Land are said to be a race distinct by themselves. 
Their near relation, the Syrian bees, whose home is north 
of Mount Carmel, have been brought to this country, where 
they have won the favor of the bee-keepers, who consider 
them among the best that have been imported to enrich 
our apiaries. 


It is to be noted that Greek literature treats mainly of 
the product of the bee rather than, as in India, of the bee 
itself; although in Greek mythology, as will be seen, the 
bee also occupies an indispensable place. 

The honey of Hymettus is the most famous honey in 
the world. 

It is, as Burroughs says, the classical honey of antiquity 

— only sharing the honor with the honey of Hybla and of 
Mount Ida. 

Mount Hymettus is in Attica, not far from Athens, and 
the splendor of that ancient capital was reflected upon 
the neighboring thyme-covered mountain, illuminating its 
golden-banded bees as they gathered storied honey for 
the poets. 

It is not in Attic Hymettus, however, that the bees had 
their origin. That honor belongs to the neighboring island 
of Crete, where the race of bees is fabled to have been born 
in a cavern in a high and all but inaccessible wall of 
rock on Mount Ida. 

These bees were born to a great end, no less a one than 
the nourishing of Zeus, the father of the gods. 

Kronos devoured his children as soon as they were born 

— as he still does all the children of earth — and when 
Zeus came into the world his mother Rhea, desiring to 
save his life, hid him away from his unnatural father on the 
island of Crete, where in a holy grotto she bore him, and 

In Greece and Italy 265 

where the bees and the goat Amalthea shared the honor 
of acting as nurses to the young deity, feeding him on 
milk and honey. 

The Cretans, famous makers of bronze weapons, in 
order to drown the cries of the infant god and prevent his 
discovery by a relentless father, instituted their renowned 
and noisy weapon-dance and performed it about him. 

For centuries the birth of the father of the gods among 
the friendly Cretans was celebrated by the weapon-dance 
at the observance of the festivals of Zeus. Moreover, in 
a certain grotto on Mount Ida, for ages there dwelt a band 
of copper-colored and very fierce bees, that successfully 
defended their store of holy honey from the approach alike 
of men and gods. 

Yearly, upon the birthday of Zeus, a great fire was to 
be seen flaming out of the grotto, and Zeus himself watched 
over the little nurses of his infancy, punishing all who 
ventured to intrude upon them. 

It once happened that four venturesome spirits thought 
to defy the power of the god and possess themselves of 
the holy honey, and to this end clad themselves from head 
to foot in close-fitting bronze armor and proceeded to 
scale the rocky wall. 

But they had reckoned without their Zeus. The armor 
fell asunder from their bodies, Zeus thundered and drew 
forth his lightning, but the Fates and Themis held him 
back, for it was not decreed that any should die — thougli 
the angry god turned the sacrilegious four into birds. 

It is said the bees received as reward from the grateful 
god the art of storing honey in waxen cells for winter use, 
the power to form a community governed by wise laws, 
and also the beautiful golden bands on their bodies, as a 
mark of special favor. 

Zeus, in ancient works of art, is often represented as 

266 The Honey-Makers 

accompanied by bees, which usually are near him upon the 
horn of plenty. 

The oak-tree, sacred to the father of the gods, is also 
related to the bees, and in a somewhat curious manner. 
Because the bees fed Zeus, the tree dedicated to him 
returns honey to them. 

At certain seasons the leaves of the oak are covered 
with honey-dew, believed by the ancients, as we know, to 
be an ethereal downfall from heaven, and from this circum- 
stance came the saying, "Zeus rains honey." 

Hesiod tells us, referring, doubtless, to swarms of bees 
living in hollow oaks : — 

" Nor scythe nor famine on the righteous prey ; 
Feasts, strewn by earth, employ their easy day ; 
The oak is on their hills ; the topmost tree 
Bears the rich acorn, and the trunk the bee." 

During the golden age, when all were happy and all had 
enough, honey was, as it still is, distilled from the leaves of 
plants, particularly from oaks, and was frequently noticed 
by the ancient writers. Ovid, in his '' Metamorphoses," 
thus refers to that blessed time : — 

" With milk and nectar were the rivers filled, 
And Honey from green Holly-okes distilled." 

Virgil, promising the return of the golden age at the birth 
of a certain youth, gives the following beautiful description 
of the earth at that fortunate time : — 

'' The very cradle shall pour thee forth attractive flowers. 
The serpent also shall die ; and the poison's fallacious 
plant shall die ; the Assyrian spikenard shall grow in every 
soil. But soon as thou shalt be able to read the praises of 
heroes, and the achievements of thy sire, and to understand 
what virtue is, the field shall by degrees grow yellov/ with 
soft ears of corn ; blushing grapes shall hang on the rude 
brambles, and hard oaks shall distil the dewy honey." 

In Greece and Italy 267 

Strabo in his travels seems to have discovered favored 
lands where the golden age still lingered, though it is to be 
feared a vivid imagination helped color the picture. 

He tells us, — 

" Hyrcania is very fertile, and extensive, consisting for 
the most part of plains, and has considerable cities dis- 
persed throughout it. . . . 

" The following facts are narrated as indications of the 
fertility of the country. The vine produces a metretes of 
wine ; the fig-tree sixty medimni of fruit ; the corn grows 
from the seed which falls out of the stalk ; bees make their 
hives in the trees, and honey drops from among the leaves. 

" This is the case also in the territory of Matiane in 
Media, and in the Sacasene, and Araxene of Armenia." 

The bees continued to find joy in the oaks even after the 
golden age had passed, and Virgil sings thus of an enticing 
spot, in his description of a poetical contest between the 
shepherds Thyrsis and Corydon : — 

" Here Mincius hath fringed the verdant banks with ten- 
der reed, and from the sacred oak swarms of bees resound." 

The story of the bees on Mount Ida is not the only account 
given of their origin, for it is said that Melissa, a very beau- 
tiful woman, was transformed into a bee by Zeus, and 
that from her the bees received their classical name of 

Euhemerus, according to Columella, says that bees were 
bred from hornets and the sun, and were educated by cer- 
tain nymphs to become nurses of the young Zeus, and that 
later the god gave them power to collect and store up for 
themselves the same food they had provided for him in his 
infancy. Still others say that Amalthea and Melissa were 
the two daughters of Melisseus, king of Crete, and that they 
took care of the young god, feeding him upon goat's-milk 
and honey. 

268 The Honey-Makers 

Others again deny to Crete the honor of having produced 
the bees at all, and say they came forth in Thessaly, or on 
Mount Hyraettus itself. 

Nymphs and bees were very closely related, — nymphs, 
in fact, being but transformed bees ; and we sometimes find 
the bees under their protection, as is told in the " Odyssey " 
in a description of a port in Ithaca : — 

" An olive tree 
With spreading branches at the farther end 
Of that fair haven stands, and overbrows 
A pleasant shady grotto of the nymphs 
Called Naiads. Cups and jars of stone are ranged 
Within, and bees lay up their honey there." 

As in Hindu mythology, so in that of Greece and Italy, 
we find the bee intimately connected with the creative 
force in nature. 

Cybele, or Rhea, the great Earth-mother, is, like Vishnu, 
though to a less extent, the creator of Hving things, and 
like him she is often represented in company with bees. 
Her priestesses were termed melissee, they being, accord- 
ing to some accounts, actually transformed bees. 

Demeter, or Ceres, symbolized the earth's fertility, while 
her daughter, Persephone, or Proserpine, symbolized one 
aspect of that fertility, the springing forth of verdure in 
summer and its disappearance in winter ; and of. them 
Porphyry says : — 

" The priestesses of Ceres, also, as being initiated into 
the mysteries of the terrene goddess, were called by the 
ancients bees ; and Proserpine herself was denominated 
by them honied^ 

To both Ceres and Proserpine honey was offered at 

Virgil, exhorting the husbandmen to prepare for the 
coming of the fruitful season, says, — 

In Greece and Italy 269 

"Above all, venerate the gods; and renew to great 
Ceres the sacred annual rites, offering up thy sacrifices 
upon the joyous turf, at the expiration of the last days of 
winter, when the spring is serene. . . . For thee let all the 
rural youths adore Ceres ; to whom mix thou the honey- 
comb with milk and gentle wine." 

This libation of honey, milk, and wine was poured upon 
the sacrifice, the victim having first been led around the 

The worship of Ceres in one form or another was very 

We are told that once her priestess Melissa, because she 
would not reveal the secrets she had been set to guard, 
was torn to pieces by the other women, but that Ceres 
caused bees to issue from her body ; the coming forth of 
bees from a dead body being a common expression of the 
immortality of the soul in the early ages. 

The bee was sacred to the Greek Artemis, known in 
Italy as Diana, and who also was symbolical of the creative 
power, presiding over births, and receiving offerings of 
honey. Diana was the goddess of the moon as well, and 
Porphyry tells us : — 

" The moon, likewise, who presides over generation, was 
called by the ancients a bee." 

The souls of the dead were supposed to come down from 
the moon upon the earth in the forms of bees, reminding 
us of the ancient Hindu faith concerning honey, the bee, 
and the moon. 

The transmigration of the souls of the deserving into the 
bodies of bees was a Greek, as well as a Hindu myth, the 
origin of which Porphyry perhaps explains in his " Cave of 
the Nymphs," where he tells us : — 

" All souls, however, proceeding into generation, are not 
simply called bees, but those who will live in it justly, and 

270 The Honey-Makers 

who, after having performed such things as are acceptable 
to the gods, will again return to their kindred stars. For 
this insect loves to return to the places from whence it first 
came, and is eminently just and sober. Whence, also, the 
libations which are made with honey are called sober." 

Porphyry, in a quotation from Sophocles, expresses the 
belief that the souls of the departed escaped in the form of 

bees, — 

" In swarms while wandering from the dead, 
A humming sound is heard." 

The bees are also related to the sun god, and the priest- 
esses of Apollo are called Melissse, the pythoness herself 
being termed by Pindar the bee of Delphi, in one of his 
Pythian odes : — 

" O blest son of Polymnestes, thee, agreeably to this pre- 
diction, the oracle hath ennobled by the spontaneous voice 
of the Delphic bee ; which, having three times bid thee hail, 
proclaimed thee destined King of Cyrene, when thou wast 
inquiring what help for impeded speech there shall be from 
the gods." 

One of the oldest temples built to Apollo was constructed 
by the bees, according to Pausanias, who thus tells the 
story : — 

" Many things, indeed, are reported of the Delphi, and 
particularly concerning the oracle of Apollo. For they 
say that this oracle is the most ancient of any on the 

There were three temples raised to Apollo, one of brass, 
one of branches of the laurel-tree, the third, says Pausanias, 
" was raised by bees from wax and wings, and was sent by 
Apollo to the Hyperboreans." 

Aristaeus, the father of bee-culture, was the son of Apollo, 
and an offering was brought to Apollo as the god of the 
bees on the 24th of July. 

In Greece and Italy 271 

Aristeus was born to Apollo by the river nymph Cyrene, 
and was initiated into the mysteries of bee-keeping by no 
less a one than Ceres herself. It was he who taught the 
art to mankind. 

It was he, too, who discovered the method — said to 
have originated with the Egyptians — of procreating bees 
from dead cattle, thus replacing his lost swarms. Virgil 
tells the story of the renewal of Aristseus' bees in his fourth 
*' Georgic." 

Having lost them through disease and famine, AristcCus 
appealed to his mother Cyrene for aid, and visited her in 
her dwelling under the river Peneus. 

She sent him to Proteus, of many forms, whose wisdom 
could only be evoked when, in spite of his quick trans- 
formations into frightful shapes, he had been captured and 
securely bound. 

Aristseus subdued Proteus and learned, in consequence, 
that the loss of his bees was a punishment for an offence he 
had committed against Eurydice, unwittingly causing her 
death and arousing the vengeance of Orpheus and the 
wood nymphs. 

When Aristoeus returned with this information to Cyrene, 
she told him what he must do to regain his bees. 

It is the old story, supposed to have come from Egypt, 
of the birth of bees from the carcass of a sacrificed bull. 

Virgil causes Cyrene thus to speak : — 

" Single out four choice bulls of beauteous form, which 
now graze for you on the tops of green Lycseus ; and as 
many heifers whose necks are untouched by the yoke. 
For these erect four altars at the lofty temples of the god- 
desses ; from their throats emit the sacred blood, and leave 
the bodies of the cattle in the leafy grove. 

" Afterwards, when the ninth moon has displayed her ris- 
ing beams, you may offer Lethsean poppies as the funeral 

2/2 The Honey-Makers 

rites to Orpheus, venerate appeased Eurydice with a slain 
calf, sacrifice a black ewe, and revisit the grove." 

Aristseus did all these things, and when the appointed 
time came revisited his sacrifices. 

" But here they beheld a sudden prodigy, and wonderful 
to relate ; bees through all the belly hum amidst the de- 
composed bowels of the cattle, pour forth with the fer- 
menting juices from the burst sides, and in immense clouds 
roll along ; then swarm together on the top of a tree, and 
hang down in a cluster from the bending boughs." 

The legends of Ari^teeus were spread far and wide 
through many countries, and the belief of the springing of 
bees from the carcass of a dead animal was also wide- 
spread ; in later years it penetrated even to England and 
came over to America, so that at the present time there are 
those living who, if they do not believe the story, yet repeat 
it with a puzzled feeling as not quite daring wholly to dis- 
credit it. 

There is no doubt, as has been said, that the story is 
symbolical of the renewal of life upon earth, and of the 
springing of life from apparently dead matter, or the resur- 
rection of the soul after death. 

The bee, symbolizing the spirit or soul of man which at 
death escapes from the body, was believed to be im- 

Virgil thus refers to the belief in the immortality of the 
bee : — 

" Some have alleged that a portion of the divine mind, 
and a heavenly emanation, may be discovered in bees; 
for that the Deity pervades the whole earth, the tracts of 
sea, and depth of heaven ; that hence the flocks, the herds, 
men, and all the race of beasts, each at its birth, derive their 
slender lives. Accordingly, they afifirm that all of them, 
when dissolved, return and are brought back thither here- 

In Greece and Italy 273 

after ; nor is there any room for death ; but that they 
mount up ahve each into his proper order of star, and take 
their seat in the high heaven." 

Some have interpreted the resurrection of Glaukos in the 
legend as due to his having been buried in honey. 

Glaukos, a son of the Cretan king Minos, while playing 
with a mouse, the symbol of death, once fell into a cask of 
honey. Minos long sought his unfortunate child, but in 
vain until he 'appealed to the oracle, who informed him that 
he who was best able to draw a comparison from a three- 
colored cow in Minos's herd would restore his son. 
Minos therefore appealed to the seer Polyidos, from the 
family of the renowned soothsayer Melampus. Polyidos 
likened the colors of the cow to the fruit of the bramble, 
which is green, red, and black during the various stages of 
its ripening. Upon this Glaukos was discovered — but he 
was dead. Minos now demanded that he should be re- 
stored to life, and shut up the seer in a vault with the body. 
Presently a snake crawled towards Glaukos, and Polyidos 
killed it. Then came another snake, bearing an herb, with 
which it covered the dead snake, which at once came to 
life again. Polyidos laid the same herb upon the body of 
Glaukos and he stood up from his bier. 

Democritus promised resurrection of the body if it was 
preserved in honey. 

The power possessed by honey of preserving organic 
bodies immersed in it was well known to the ancients, and 
no doubt this was the origin of many of the superstitions 
regarding the miraculous powers ascribed to it. We know 
that even human bodies can be and doubtless have been 
preserved in honey and that the Greeks sometimes used it 
for this purpose, as Plutarch tells us of the body of Agesi- 
laus, and as Josephus also relates concerning the body of 
Aristobulus. This general, having been freed from his ene- 


274 The Honey-Makers 

mies and sent to Syria by Caesar in command of forces, was 
poisoned by Pompey's followers. 

" His dead body also lay for a long time embalmed in 
honey, till Anthony afterwards sent it to Judsea, and caused 
it to be buried in the royal sepulchres." 

There is a Mohammedan legend to the effect that the 
body of Alexander the Great was placed in a golden coffin 
filled with honey. 

The habits of the bee, as well as its remarkable products, 
no doubt helped establish its high place in the minds of the 
people. In contrast to the belief in the story of the car- 
cass, Aristotle tells us the bee approaches nothing that is 
putrid, only sweet things ; and from the earliest time there 
has been a behef in the purity of the bee that has given an 
added value to its honey and wax, particularly in religious 

In Oriental countries honey very often constituted a part 
of the first food of children, and in its capacity of providing 
nourishment became quite naturally symbohcal of the nurse 
or the mother, and hence doubtless one reason for its con- 
stant relation to those divinities connected with procreation. 

Dionysos, or Bacchus, in his earher form was a most be- 
neficent god, also symbolizing that force in nature which 
rises into new life after the sleep of death, or the coming 
of spring after winter. He was the bearer of high in- 
spiration to man, freeing him from sordid and petty cares. 

According to Ovid it was Bacchus who first discovered 
honey. As he moved through the woods of the Thessalian 
mountains Rhodope and Pangsea, accompanied by his train 
of followers making the air resound with their music, the 
birds flew near overcome by curiosity, and with them the 
hitherto unknown bees. 

Bacchus caught the pretty creatures that were thus fruit- 
lessly flying about, and shut them up in a hollow tree. 

In Greece and Italy 275 

Upon this they settled down into communal life and 
made honey for him. 

This honey was deservedly popular, and no wonder 
pleasure-loving Silenus was seduced by it. 

One day he stole into the woods determined to taste it. 
He found the tree, stood on his donkey, and stretched his 
short body until he was standing on tiptoe almost within 
reach of the prize. But the bees flew angrily out and stung 
him on his bald pate, whereupon he fell backward upon 
his donkey, which, being a sharer in the stings of course, 
— as was poor Silenus' frequent experience in similar situa- 
tions, — kicked him, and in sad plight he was found lying on 
the ground by the Satyrs whom he called to his assistance, 
and who as usual made sport of his misfortune. 

Dionysos had good reason to befriend the bees, for, like 
his father Zeus, he was nourished in infancy on honey. 

Dionysos was the son of Zeus and Semele, and his 
mother, having insisted upon beholding her husband Zeus 
in all his glory, was punished for her folly by dying at sight 
of the thunderer's brilliancy. The babe was saved from 
the fierce glow by Hermes and afterwards given by Zeus to 
the care of Makris, or, as some call her, Brisa, the daughter 
of Aristseus, to which story Apollonius Rhodius thus refers 
in " Medea's Wedding " : — 

" At once they mixed a bowl for the blessed gods, as was 
right, and dragged sheep to the altar with pious hands, and 
made ready that very night for the maiden her bridal bed 
in the holy cave, where Makris once did dwell, the daughter 
of Aristffius, the bee-keeper, who discovered the use of 
honey and the fatness of the olive, prize of toil. She it 
was, that at the first took to her breast the Nysean son of 
Zeus in Eubcea, home of the Abantes, and with honey 
she moistened his parched lips when Hermes brought him 
from out the fire." 

276 The Honey-Makers 

Makris, or Brisa, taught Bacchus to press the honey from 
the honey-comb. 

In the Dionysian temple, upon the Lesbian promontory 
Brisa, Bacchus was worshipped as Bacchus Brisaeus, the 
god of sweetness, the honey-god. 

Bacchus, as the distributer of flowers over the meadows, 
easily became the father of the bees, or the creator of 
honey, — an honor, however, that he shared with others. 

Euripides sings thus of Dionysos : — 

" To Phrygia's steeps, to Lydia's ridges high 
He leads, exulting leads his train, 
While Evoe, Evoe, is the joyful cry, 
And as they pass, through every plain 
Flows milk, flows wine, the nectar'd honey flows, 
And round each soft gale Syrian odors throws." 

The priestesses of Dionysos brandished in their hands 
the thyrsos, a cane with a crown of ivy, and as Euripides 

tells us, — 

" — the ivy wands 
Distilled from all their tops rich store of honey." 

Honey is known to possess a sleep-producing power, 
and consequently was used as an offering to death, sleep to 
the ancients being a symbol of death. Beside the body on 
the bier was placed, in Homeric times, a vessel of honey, 
as the " Iliad " tells us was done at the burial of Patroclus. 
Achilles prepared the sacrifices, placing them about the 
body upon the funeral pyre. 

" And he set therein two-handled jars of honey and oil, 
leaning them against the bier." 

It was the custom of the survivors to pour honey upon 
the graves of their beloved dead, and the shepherds o 
Lokris were wont to smear the grave of Hesiod with honey, 
as we learn from an inscription on the poet attributed to 
Alcasus, which runs thus: — 

In Greece and Italy 277 

" Nymphs in their founts, 'midst Locris' woodland gloom, 
Laved Hesiod's corse, and piled his grassy tomb. 
The shepherds there the yellow honey shed. 
And milk of goats was sprinkled o'er his head." 

To the underworld deities, to Hades and Hekate, as well 
as to the spirits of the dead, honey was offered, as ^scliy- 
lus describes in his tragedy of "The Persians." 

Atossa, the queen mother, having had her ill-omened 
dreams confirmed by news of the defeat of the Persian 
army under her son Xerxes, brings libations for her dead 
husband, Darius, and says : — 

" I return, and bear 
Libations soothing to the father's shade 
In the son's cause ; delicious milk, that foams 
White from the sacred heifer; liquid honey, 
Extract of flow'rs." 

Euripides also in his " Iphigenia in Tauris " speaks of 
honey libations to the dead, where Iphigenia, lamenting the 
death of her brother, says : — 

" For him, as dead, with pious care 
This goblet I prepare ; 
And on the bosom of the earth shall flow 
Streams from the heifer mountain-bred, 
The grape's rich juice, and mix'd with these, 
The labor of the yellow bees, 

Libations soothing to the dead. 
Give me the oblation : let me hold 
The foaming goblet's hallowed gold." 

In one of Lucian's comedies Charon comes from the 
underworld to view things and people in the world above, 
and Mercury conducts him about. Charon asks to see 
the sepulchres where dead bodies are inhumed, and when 
Mercury shows him the cemeteries, the ancient ferryman 
of Hades is puzzled at the wasted mead he sees poured out 
in honor of the dead, — mead, or metheghn, as it is also 

278 The Honey-Makers 

called, being, as we know, a fermented drink made from 
honey and frequently used in libations. 

" Charon. Why, then, crown they 

These stones, and why with unguent rich anoint them ? 
And why do some, heaping a funeral pile 
Before the mounds, and digging out a trench. 
Burn sumptuous viands there, and in the ditches 
Pour, if I right conjecture, mead and wine ? 

"Mercury. I know not, ferryman, what use it can be 
To those in Hades; but it is believed 
That souls returning from the world below 
Will come to supper — very probable ! 
Hovering above the savor and the smoke, 
And from the trench will drink up the metheglin." 

Needless to say, Lucian was more faithful as a chronicler 
of ancient customs than as a believer in them. 

In the " Odyssey " Circe directs Ulysses on his way to 
Pluto's realm, there to consult the mighty seer, Tiresias. 
At the entrance to the abode of the dead two streams 
meet, and Circe says : — 

" At the place where meet 
The ever-roaring waters stands a rock ; 
Draw near to that, and there I bid thee scoop 
In earth a trench, a cubit long and wide. 
And round about it pour to all the dead 
Libations, — milk and honey first, and next 
Rich wine, and lastly water, scattering 
White meal upon them." 

Honey cakes were offered as a parting gift to the dead, 
with which to appease Cerberus, and Virgil, in the "^neid," 
tells us how the hero ^neas descended into Hades, con- 
ducted by the Sibyl of Cums to consult with his father 
Anchises. With much difficulty Charon, the ferryman 
conveys his living freight across the river Styx, to where 
frightful Cerberus lay barking from his triple jaws. 

In Greece and Italy 279 

" To whom the prophetess, seeing his neck now bristle with 
horrid snakes, flings a soporific cake of honey and medi- 
cated grain. He, in the mad rage of hunger, opening 
his three mouths, snatches the offered morsel, and, spread 
on the ground, relaxes his monstrous Hmbs, and is extended 
at vast length over all the cave." 

Offerings of honey were m.ade to the household gods, as 
is illustrated in one of the " Elegies " of Tibullus. 

"Or dulcet cakes himself the farmer paid, 
When crown'd his wishes by your powerful aid ; 
While his fair daughter brought with her from home 
The luscious offering of a honey-comb." 

In fact, honey forms a part of the sacrifices made to 
most of the members of the Greek and Latin pantheon, 
a supposed cause, as we remember, of its prohibition as 
a sacrifice by the Hebrews. 

Particularly to the gods and goddesses of the fields and 
gardens was honey a necessary offering, for it formed, as 
we shall see later, a very important part of the wealth 
of the agriculturist, and was a valued article of nutriment. 

It continually appears in connection with flour and milk 
and wine as offerings to the gods, the flour symbohzing 
the nutrient plant world, the milk the nutrient animal 
world, and honey the ethereal sweet gift of the gods. 

Priapos, the special protector of fields and gardens, 
received the first-fruits of the field and libations of wine 
and honey. He was supposed to be the son of Dionysos 
and Aphrodite ; fertility in plants and animals was ascribed 
to him, and he protected herds, bee-hives, and fishing nets. 

Pan, also the god of the fields, received his share of 
homage — and honey offerings. 

Thus sings the Shepherd Comatas in one of the "■ Idyls 
of Theocritus " : — ■ 

" Nay, but an if thou wilt come, thou shalt tread here the 

2 8o The Honey-Makers 

soft-feathered fern, and flowering thyme, and beneath thee 
shall be thrown the skins of she-goats, four times more 
soft than the fleeces of thy lambs. And I will set out 
eight bowls of milk for Pan, and eight bowls full of the 
richest honey-combs." 

The Romans are said to have had a special goddess of 
honey, Mellonia, to whom they made sacrifices. 

Cupid does not, like Kama, bear a bow strung with 
bees, but we are told that he sometimes dips the golden 
arrow that incites love in honey, to make the love fortunate, 
sometimes in gall to make it unfortunate ; and Anacreon 
has used the bee, not to aid Cupid, but to punish the 
relentless infant, as appears in the following : — 

" Cupid once upon a bed 
Of roses laid his weary head ; 
Luckless urchin, not to see 
Within the leaves a slumbering bee ! 
The bee awaked — with anger wild 
The bee awaked, and stung the child. 
Loud and piteous are his cries ; 
To Venus quick he runs, he flies ! 
" Oh, mother ! — I am wounded through — 
I die with pain — in sooth I do ! 
Stung by some little angry thing. 
Some serpent on a tiny wing — 
A bee it was — for once, I know 
I heard a rustic call it so." 
Thus he spoke, and she the while 
Heard him with a soothing smile ; 
Then said, " My infant, if so much 
Thou feel the little wild-bee's touch. 
How must the heart, oh, Cupid ! be. 
The hapless heart that 's stung by thee ? " 

In Lang's translation of the " Idyls of Theocritus " we 
have a similar story thus rendered : — 

"The thievish Love, —a cruel bee once stung him, as 

In Greece and Italy 281 

he was rifling honey from the hives, and pricked his finger- 
tips all ; then he was in pain, and blew upon his hand, and 
leaped, and stamped the ground. And then he showed 
his hurt to Aphrodite, and made mucli complaint, how 
that the bee is a tiny creature, and yet what wounds it 
deals ! And his mother laughed out, and said, ' Art thou 
not even such a creature as the bees ? — for tiny art thou, 
but what wounds thou dealest ! ' " 

There are frequent allusions to Cupid mischievously 
overturning a bee-hive, and Albert Dtirer has given us a 

most delightful picture of this event, in which Venus appears 

coming to the rescue of the naughty child. 

Moschus, in one of his idyls, causes Venus thus to 

describe the lost Cupid whom she is trying to find : — 
" The child is most notable ; thou couldst tell him among 

twenty together ; his skin is not white, but flame colored ; 

his eyes are keen and burning ; an evil heart and a sweet 

tongue has he, for his speech and his mind are at variance. 

Like honey is his voice, but his heart of gall ; all tameless 

is he, and deceitful, the truth is not in him, a wily brat, and 

cruel in his pastime." 

Venus too received libations of honey, to which Emped- 

ocles thus refers : — 

" Venus was tlieir only queen. 
Her they propitiate and duly worship 
With pious images, with beauteous figures 
Skilfully carved ; with fragrant incenses, 
And holy offerings of unmixed myrrh, 
And sweetly smelling frankincense ; and many 
A pure libation of fresh golden honey 
They pour'd along the floor." 

The word " honey " or other words derived from it were 
used as terms of endearment by the ancients, very much as 
they are used by us to-day. We hear of a " puer mellitus " 

282 The Honey-Makers 

and a "puella mellita," the classical form of "Honey "so 
commonly used by our Southern negro when addressing 
children or beloved adults. 

Cupid was also the honey-bird, or honey-bee. There 
were " eyes as sweet as honey." 

And the lover, quite in modern southern United States 
dialect, addressed his beloved as " my little honey," " my 
honey," " my honied one." 

Cities and districts were also frequently named from 
honey, as Melitonus in Pontus, Melitaia in Thessaly, 
Melita in Sicily, Meliteria in Cappadocia, Melitussa in 
Illyria, and Melissurgis in Macedonia. Mehta was also the 
classical name of Malta. 

Some kinds of honey possess an intoxicating quality 
when used fresh, as well as after being mixed with water 
and fermented to form the drink called mead, so popular 
among the Northern nations. 

Porphyry alludes to intoxicating honey in his " Cave of 
the Nymphs," where he tells us : — 

" In Orpheus, likewise, Saturn is ensnared by Jupiter 
through honey. For Saturn, being filled with honey, is 
intoxicated, his senses are darkened, as if from the effects 
of wine, and he sleeps. The goddess Night, too, m 
Orpheus, advises Jupiter to make use of honey as an artifice. 
For she says to him : — 

" ' When stretch'd beneath the lofty oak's good view, 
Saturn, with honey by the bees produced, 
Sunk in ebriety, fast bind the god.' " 

And Horace, in his " Ode to Bacchus," says : — 

" Give me to sing, by thee inspir'd. 
Thy priestesses to madness fir'd : 
Fountains of wine shall pour along, 
And, melting from the hollow tree, 
The golden treasures of the bee, 
And streams of milk shall fill the song." 

In Greece and Italy 283 

The intoxication induced by honey was in many in- 
stances considered a divine frenzy, and it was through 
eating honey that the powers of prophecy were obtained 
by the Fates, as Homer, in his " Hymn to Mercury,;' 
tells us. 

Apollo is addressing Mercury and telling him of the 
three Fates : — 

" From these I have learned trne 
Vaticinations of remotest things. 

My father cared not. Whilst they search out dooms, 
They sit apart and feed on honey-combs." 

They, having eaten the fresh honey, grow 

" Drunk with divine enthusiasm, and utter 
With earnest willingness the truth they know, 
But, if deprived of that sweet food, they mutter 
All plausible delusions ; — these to you 
I give ; — if you inquire, they will not stutter ; 
Delight your own soul with them ; — any man 
You would instruct may profit if he can." 

This divine madness seizing the fates through the honey 
of the bee recalls to mind the Hebrew prophetess Deborah. 

In this connection bees, like birds, were augurs of good 
or ill fortune in the old days of Greece and Italy, and had 
power to foretell what was about to happen. 

A wsarm of bees settling on a house foretold a conflagra- 
tion, which recalls the sacrifices considered necessary by 
the ancient Hindus when a man's house was made the 
resting-place of a swarm of bees. 

A swarm of bees sometimes foretold misfortune, as in 
the case of the defeat of Scipio when engaged in war with 
Hannibal. Livy the historian describes in a graphic 
manner Hannibal's influence over his troops gained by 
great promises of what he would give them if they won, 

284 The Honey-Makers 

and how they ''with one mind and one voice demanded 
the battle," and then adds : — 

" By no means so great an alacrity prevailed among 
the Romans, who, in addition to other causes, were also 
alarmed by recent prodigies ; for both a wolf had entered 
the camp, and having torn those who met him, had 
escaped unhurt, and a swarm of bees had settled on a 
tree overhanging the general's tent." 

In this case the prophecy of defeat was fulfilled, but it 
did not always happen so ; as Pliny tells us, — 

" Bees settled, too, in the camp of the chieftain Drusus 
when he gained the brilliant victory of Arbalo ; a proof, 
indeed, that the conjectures of soothsayers are not by any 
means infallible, seeing that they are of opinion that this 
is always of evil augury." 

A swarm of bees did not always portend evil, however, 
for Cicero in his " Essay on Divination " tells the following 
of Dionysius, King of Syracuse : — 

" It was by this kind of conjectural divination that 
the fortune of the tyrant Dionysius was announced a little 
before the commencement of his reign; for when he was 
travelling through the territory of Leontini he dismounted 
and drove his horse into a river ; but the horse was carried 
away by the current, and Dionysius, not being able with 
all his efforts to extricate him, departed, as Philistus reports, 
lamenting his loss. Some time afterwards, as .he was journey- 
ing further down the river, he suddenly heard a neighing, 
and to his great joy found his horse in very comfortable 
condition, with a swarm of bees hanging on his mane. 
And this prodigy intimates the event which took place 
a few days after this, when Dionysius was called to the 

Bees foretold to King Latinus the coming of ^neas 
to Italy and his settlement there, as Virgil relates : 

In Greece and Italy 285 

" In the centre of the palace, within the deep recesses 
of the inner court, stood a laurel, with sacred locks, and 
for many years preserved with awe ; which King Latinus 
having discovered when he was raising the first towers of 
his palace, was said to have consecrated to Phoebus, and 
from it to have given the name of Laurentines to the in- 
habitants. On the high summit of this tree thick-clustering 
bees, strange to hear, wafted athwart the liquid sky with 
a great humming noise, planted themselves ; and^ having 
linked their feet together by a mutual hold, the swarm 
hung in a surprising manner from the leafy bough. Forth- 
with, the prophet said, we behold a foreign hero hither 
advancing, and an army making towards the same parts 
where the bees alight, from the same parts whence they 
came, and bearing sway in the lofty palace." 

In Lycophron's " Cassandra," Cassandra, daughter of 
Priam and Hecuba, having received the gift of prophecy 
from Apollo, repeatedly foretold calamities that were to 
befall Troy, — 

" for then nor foss, nor earthy mound, 

Nor bars, nor bolts, nor massy walls, though flanked 
With beetling towers, and rough with palisades, 
Aught shall avail; but (thick as clustering bees, 
"When sulphurous steams ascend, and sudden flames 
Invade their populous cells) do'.vn from the banks. 
Heaps upon heaps, the dying swarms shall roll, 
And temper foreign furrows with their gore I " 

Herodotus tells of a prodigy by which the bees gained 
tardy but earnest recognition for a slain leader from his 
slayers. Onesilus the Salaminian was killed in an encoun- 
ter with the Persians. 

" Now the Amathusians, having cut off the head of 
Onesilus because he had besieged them, took it to Ama- 
thus, and suspended it over the gates ; and when the head 

286 The Honey-Makers 

was suspended, and had become hollow, a swarm of bees 
entered it, and filled it with honey-comb. When this 
happened the Amathusians consulted the oracle respecting 
it, and an answer was given them that they should take 
down the head and bury it, and sacrifice annually to 
Onesilus as to a hero ; and if they did so, it would turn 
out better for them. The Amathusians did accordingly, 
and continued to do so until my time." 

The literature and mythology of the ancients contain 
numerous such stories of prophecy, good or bad, given by 
the bees. 

The sweetness of honey came to be symbolical of 
the sweetness of speech. As honey was sweet in the 
mouth, sweet also were the words of the eloquent that 
proceeded out of the mouth. Hence the expressions 
" honeyed speech," " honeyed tongue," " his tongue dropped 
honey," and many others. 

Hesiod, for instance, speaking of the gifts bestowed by 
the Muses upon whomsoever among the kings of men 
they delight to honor, says, — 

" Upon his tongue they shed a balmy dew ; 
And words, as honey sweet, drop from his lips." 

Future greatness and future eloquence are said frequently 
to have been foretold by bees. 

Cicero relates, in his work on divination, the belief con- . 
cerning Plato : — 

''While Plato was an infant in his cradle, a swarm of 
bees settled on his lips during his slumbers ; and the 
diviners answered that he would become extremely elo- 
quent; and this prediction of his future eloquence was 
made before he even knew how to speak." 

And Pliny says the same thus : " Bees settled upon the 
lips of Plato when still an infant even, announcing thereby 

In Greece and Italy 


the sweetness of that persuasive eloquence for which he 
was so noted." 

Xenophon, who was as eloquent as a writer as he was 
excellent as a leader and a swordsman, was called the Attic 

Sophocles was also called the Attic Bee ; and Pindar, 
as he lay sleeping, was visited by bees who refreshed the 
darling of the Muses with delicious honey. 

" The divine Homer," too, is said to have received his 
first nourishment from a priestess whose breasts distilled 
honey. In short, there are very few of the sweet singers 
or eloquent pleaders of ancient days whose future renown 
was not fabled to have been foretold in this way by the 


IN GREECE AND ITALY {contimied) 

The bee is mentioned in one way or another by nearly 
all the writers of classical antiquity. 

The poets used the bees, after the manner of poets, to 
beautify their verse, and from ^schylus to Theocritus the 
bees and their honey grace the pages of the Greek and 
Roman singers. 

Homer compares a great army to a swarm of bees, but 
his bees are the wild, rock-dwelling tribes, as in the 
second book of the " Iliad," where Nestor calls to arms the 
host : — 

" So spake he, and led the way forth from the council, 
and all the other sceptred chiefs rose with him and 
obeyed the shepherd of the host ; and the people hastened 
to them. Even as when the tribes of thronging bees issue 
from some hollow rock, ever in fresh procession, and fly 
clustering among the flowers of spring, and some on this 
hand and some on that fly thick ; even so from ships and 
huts before the low beach marched forth their many tribes 
by companies to the place of assembly." 

In the first book of the " Iliad " honey is used by Homer 
in the poetical sense so often used by his successors, where 
he describes Nestor : — 

"Then in their midst rose up Nestor, pleasant of speech, 
the clear-voiced orator of the Pylians, he from whose 
tongue flowed discourse sweeter than honey." 

In Greece and Italy 289 

Hesiod, some eight hundred years B. c, was well ac- 
quainted with hive-bees, understood the art of bee-keeping, 
and was fond of using the drone to point a moral. In his 
" Works and Days " we learn that — 

" Still on the sluggard hungry want attends ; 
The scorn of man, the hate of Heaven impends; 
While he, averse from labor, drags his days, 
Yet greedy on the gains of others preys ; 
E'en as the stingless drones devouring seize 
With glutted sloth the harvest of the bees." 

Still more severe is another reference to the drones in 
which our poet casts a very unchivalrous lance at the fair 
sex. He tells us that Vulcan fashioned a maid of azure eyes 
at Jove's behest, because the All-Father, being angry with 
mankind for having received from Prometheus the heavenly 
fire, desired to do them an injury, and the greatest injury 
the mighty intellect of the great god could devise was to 
give them woman. This first woman, this maid of azure 
eyes, was of surpassing loveliness, and was adorned by 
Minerva herself. When she was presented, 

" On gods and men in that same moment seized 
The ravishment of wonder, when they saw 
The deep deceit, the inextricable snare. 
From her the sex of tender woman springs : 
Pernicious is the race : the woman tribe 
Dwell upon earth, a mighty bane to man : 
No mates for wasting want, but luxury : 
And as, within the close-roof'd hive, the drones. 
Co-operative in base and slothful works, 
Are pamper'd by the bees, these all the day, 
Till sinks the ruddy sun, haste on the wing, 
'Their murmuring labors ply,' and still cement 
The white and waxen comb; those lurk within 
The close hive, gathering in their maw the fruit 
Of others' labors ; such are womankind : 
They, whom the Thunderer sent, a bane to men, 
111 helpmates of intolerable toils." 

290 The Honey-Makers 

This sad example has been followed by later writers. 

x'Eschylus, like Homer, used the bees in a simile of the 
army in his tragedy of " The Persians/' where the chorus 
tells us, — 

'' For all the host that drive the steed, and that tramp 
along the plain, hath gone off like a swarm of bees, along 
with the leader of the army, having crossed the ocean 
promontory common to both continents, united to either 

In a fragment of one of the unknown plays of Euripides 
preserved to us by Athenaeus, we meet again the figure for 
eloquence used by Homer, — 

" E'en should the Phrygian God enrich my tongue 
With honeyed eloquence, such as erst did fall 
From Nestor's or Antenor's lips." 

Euripides also gives us the following beautiful descrip- 
tion of a meadow in his tragedy "■ Hippolytus." 

Hippolytus enters with his huntsmen, unconscious of the 
frightful fate Venus has decreed for him because he scorns 
the joys of love. He is singing in honor of the virgin god- 
dess Artemis, whom alone he worships, — 

" For thee this woven garland from a mead 
Unsullied have I twined, O Queen, and bring. 
There never shepherd dares to feed his flock. 
Nor steel of sickle came : only the bee 
Roveth the springtide mead undesecrate : 
And Reverence watereth it with river-dews. 
They which have heritage of self-control 
In all things, — not taught, but the pure in heart, — 
These, these may gather flowers, but none impure." 

Later in the same tragedy the Love Queen appeared, and 
dire indeed was her coming to the hapless Phaedra, who had 
fallen in love with Hippolytus 

In Greece and Italy 291 

" for dooming 

Of death had she blent with the bride-chant's singing. 
For the Dread One breathed on all life, winging 
Softly her flight as a bee low humming." 

Virgil, as we know, wrote a " Georgic " upon the bees, and 
although his treatment of them is less brilliant than that of 
the Hindu singers, yet he pays them a poet's homage, not 
only in the " Georgics " and " Bucohcs," but also in the 
" ^neid," where he makes numerous references to them. 

Horace too, like his contemporary Virgil, values the bee, 
and in his " Ode to Septimus " sings the praise of honey and 
olives. His friend Septimus has gone out to see the world, 
even as far as Spain, but Horace declares that for himself 
he hopes always to live by Tiber, but if that may not be he 
chooses next Galesus, of which he sings, — 

" No spot so joyous smiles to me 
Of this wide globe's extended shores ; 
Where nor the labors of the bee 
Yield to Hymettus' golden stores, 
Nor the green berry of Venafran soil 
Swells with a riper flood of fragrant oil." 

Again, Horace, singing of the impossibility of rivalling 
Pindar, compares the flight of Pindar's muse to that of his 
own : — 

" Strong is the gale that wafts the swan of Dirce, when- 
e'er, Antoninus, he spreads his wings into the high spaces 
of the clouds. I in the mood and manner of a matine bee 
which culls the pleasant thyme with ceaseless toil about the 
wood and slopes of dewy Tibur, a tiny minstrel, mould my 
studied verse." 

Horace prefers a quiet country life to the turmoil of a 
city, as he frequently tells us : — 

" A stream of clear water, and a wood of a few acres, and 
the unfailing promise of ray cornfield, in blessedness of 

292 The Honey-Makers 

lot surpass (though he knows it not) him who is splendid 
in the sway of fruitful Africa. Although for me neither 
Calabrian bees bring honey, nor wine is mellowing in 
L^estrygonian jar, nor goodly fleeces grow on Gallic pas- 
tures, yet vexing penury is far away, and if I wished for 
more, you would not refuse to give it to me." 

Martial agrees with Horace m preferring the country, and 
in his epigram to Fronto we read the following : — 

" Does any one haunt the porticos of cold variegated 
Spartan marble, and run to offer, like a fool, his morning 
greetings, when he might, rich with the spoils of grove and 
field, unfold before his fire his well-filled nets, and lift the 
leaping fish with the quivering line, and draw forth the yel- 
low honey from the red cask, while a plump housekeeper 
loads his unevenly propped table, and his own eggs are 
cooked by an unbought fire?" 

Martial in another of his epigrams describes the young 
girl Erotien, " whose breath was redolent with odors which 
rivalled the rose-beds of Pfestum, or the new honey of Attic 
combs, or amber just rubbed m the hand." 

In another of the epigrams occurs the well-known de- 
scription of the bee enclosed in amber : — 

" The bee is enclosed, and shines preserved, in a tear of 
the sisters of Phaeton, so that it seems enshrined in its own 
nectar. It has attained a worthy reward for its great toils ; 
we may suppose that the bee itself would have desired such 
a death." 

While again we read, " The bee that throngs Thesean 
Hymettus has sent you this noble nectar from the forest of 
Minerva ; " and again, " If quinces well saturated with 
Attic honey were placed before you, you would say these 
honey-apples are delicious." 

The honey of Hybla is almost as celebrated as the Attic 
honey of Hymettus. 

In Greece and Italy 293 

Hybla is a name that was given to several cities flourish- 
ing at different periods in Sicily, and the thyme-covered 
hills about these cities yielded the famous honey. 

Sicily was finally settled by Greek colonists after having 
been looked upon in terror for a long time on account of 
the pirates that were believed to infest it, as Strabo relates. 
Concerning its final settlement Strabo tells us : — ■ 

"Theocles the Athenian, however, having been driven to 
Sicily by storms, observed both the weakness of the inhabit- 
ants and excellence of the soil. On his return home, he 
was unable to persuade the Athenians to make any attempt, 
but he collected a numerous band of Chalcidians in Euboea, 
with some lonians and Dorians, whereof the most part were 
Megarenses, and sailed. The Chalcidians founded Naxos, 
and the Dorians Megara, which was at first called Hybla. 
These cities no longer exist, but the name of Hybla sur- 
vives on account of the Hybtean honey." 

Virgil in one of his " Bucolics " sings : — 

" Galatea, daughter of Nereus^ sweeter to me than 
Hybla's thyme, whiter than swans, fairer than white ivy ; 
soon as the weU-fed steers shall return to their stalls, come, 
if thou hast any regard for Corydon." 

And again Virgil sings : — 

" On this side, a hedge planted at the adjoining boun- 
dary, whose willow blossoms are ever fed on by Hyblaean 
bees, shall often court you by its gentle hummings to 
indulge repose." 

" Give me, Diadumenus," says Martial, " close kisses. 
' How many?' you say. You bid me count the waves of 
the ocean, the shells scattered on the shore of the yEgean 
Sea the bees that wander on Attic Hybla, or the voices and 
clapping that resound in the full theatre when the people 
suddenly see the countenance of the Emperor ... he 
wants but few who can count them." 

294 The Honey-Makers 

Concerning the " Attic Hybla," over which the bees in 
this erotic epigram wander, Martial himself offers an expla- 
nation when he says, — 

" When you make a present of Sicilian honeycomb from 
amid the hills of Hybla, you may call them Attic." 

This license was probably based upon the fact that the 
Hyblsean honey did much resemble the Hymettian, and was 
gathered by a colony of people founded by an Athenian, 

In another epigram Martial thus addresses Naevolus : 

" Like as flowery Hybla is variegated with many a color, 
when the Sicilian bees are laying waste the fleeting gifts of 
spring, so your presses shine with piles of cloaks, your 
wardrobe glistens with uncounted robes. And your white 
garments, which the land of Apulia produced from more 
than one flock, would clothe a whole tribe." 

Martial expresses his gratification in the success of his 
epigrams when writing to Lausus : — 

" It is reported (if fame says true) that the beautiful town 
of Vienna counts the perusal of my works among its pleas- 
ures. I am read there by every old man, every youth, 
and every boy, and by the chaste young matron in presence 
of her grave husband. This triumph affords me more 
pleasure than if my verse were recited by those who drink 
the Nile at its very source, or than if my own Tagus loaded 
me with Spanish gold, or Hybla and Hymettus fed my 

Writing upon the favorite of Domitian, whose name, 
Earinus, signifies spring. Martial says : — 

" You have a name which designates the season of the 
new-born year, when the Cecropian bees plunder the short- 
lived vernal flowers." 

The honey of Corsica was as renowned for its bad quali- 
ties as that of Hybla and Hymettus was for its good, and 
Martial thus refers to it : — 

In Greece and Italy 295 

" He who ventures to send verses to the eloquent Nerva 
will present common perfumes to Cosmus, violets and 
privet to the inhabitant of Psestum, and Corsican honey 
to the bees of Hybla." 

In an epigram to Caecilianus he also says, — 

" You ask for lively epigrams, and propose lifeless sub- 
jects. What can I do, Csecilianus? You expect Hybtean 
or Hymethian honey to be produced, and yet offer the 
Attic bee nothing but Corsican thyme." 

In the " Idyls of Theocritus " the bees play a delightful 
part, and one here feels a slight sense of that comradeship 
with them which makes the poetry of Kalidasa and his 
Hindu fellow-poets so charming. 

In the " Song of Thyrsis " the shepherd, written by The- 
ocritus, we read : — 

" Get thee to Ida, get thee to Anchises ! There are oak- 
trees — here only galingale blows, here sweetly hum the 
bees about the hives ! 

" Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song ! " 

Again in the same song : " Come hither, my prince, 
and take this fair pipe, honey-breathed with wax-stopped 
joints ; and well it fits thy lip : for verily I, even I, by 
Love am now haled to Hades. 

"^ Give o'er, ye Muses, come, give o'er the pastoral song! " 

Upon which the goatherd who had prevailed upon 
Thyrsis to sing, hands him the cup he had promised as a 
reward, and says, — 

" Filled may thy fair mouth be with honey, Thyrsis, and 
filled with the honey-comb ; and the sweet dried fig mayst 
thou eat of ^gilus, for thou vanquishest the cicala in song ! 
Lo, here is thy cup, see, my friend, of how pleasant a 
savor ! Thou wilt think it has been dipped in the well- 
spring of the hours." 

A goatherd's song of Amaryllis contains the following : 

296 The Honey-Makers 

" Ah, regard my heart's deep sorrow ! Ah, would I were 
that humming bee, and to thy cave might come dipping 
beneath the fern that hides thee and the ivy leaves ! " 

Comatos, ordered by Lacon to go with him, replies, — 

"That way I will not go ! Here be oak-trees, and here 
the galingale, and sweetly here hum the bees about the 

In the song of Simichidas we have the following beautiful 
description of a rural scene : — 

" And high above our heads waved many a poplar, many 
an elm-tree, while close at hand the sacred water from the 
nymphs' own cave welled forth with murmurs musical. 
On shadowy boughs the burnt cicalas kept their chatter- 
ing toil, far off the little owl cried in the thick thorn brake, 
the larks and finches were singing, the ring-dove moaned, 
the yellow bees were flitting about the springs. All 
breathed the scent of the opulent summer, of the season of 
fruits ; pears at our feet and apples by our sides were roll- 
ing plentiful ; the tender branches, with wild plums laden, 
were earthward bowed, and the four-year-old pitch seal was 
loosened from the mouth of the wine-jars." 

Daphnis won the prize for singing among the goatherds. 

" So sang the lads, and the goatherd thus bespoke them : 
" ' Sweet is thy mouth, O Daphnis, and delectable thy 
song ! Better is it to listen to thy singing than to taste 
the honeycomb. Take thou the pipe, for thou hast con- 
quered in the singing match.' " 

" Cicala to cicala is dear, and ant to ant, and hawks to 
hawks, but to me the Muse and song. Of song may all 
my dwelling be full, for sleep is not more sweet, nor sud- 
den spring, nor flowers are more delicious to the bees — 
so dear to me are the Muses. Whom they look on in 
happy hour, Circe hath never harmed with her enchanted 

In Greece and Italy 297 

In another vein the poet with a gleam of fun causes 
the herdsman who has been rejected and ridiculed by a 
city damsel thus to describe himself when indignantly tell- 
ing his story to his mates : — 

" Shepherds, tell me the very truth ; am I not beautiful? 
Mine eyes were brighter far than the glance of the gray- 
eyed Athene, my mouth than even pressed milk was 
sweeter, and from my lips my voice flowed sweeter than 
honey from the honeycomb." 

In his lament for the poet Bion, Moschus sings, — 

" Thy sudden doom, O Bion, Apollo himself lamented, 
and the Satyrs mourned thee, and the Priapi in sable 
raiment, and the Panes sorrow for thy song, and the 
fountain fairies in the wood made moan, and their tears 
turned to rivers of waters, and Echo in the rocks laments 
that thou art silent, and no more she mimics thy voice. 
And in sorrow for thy fall the trees cast down their fruit 
and all the flowers have faded. From the ewes have 
flowed no fair milk, nor honey from the hives, nay, it hath 
perished for mere sorrow in the wax, for now hath thy 
honey perished, and no more it behoves men to gather the 
honey of the bees. 

" Begin, ye Siciliafi Muses, begin the difge.'" 

Besides the poets' use of the bees we have the more 
serious writers constantly employing them as emblems of 
a well-governed state and as symbols of colonization and 
of social and domestic economy, while the poor drones are 
everywhere anathematized and held up as examples of all 
that is pernicious in a community. 

Plato, in his great work, " The Repubhc," has given to 
bees an important place in illustrating the needs and 
ordering of a state, and in one place, in speaking of how the 
minds of youth are affected by what they hear of vice and 
virtue, he uses a simile very common in all ages ; he says : 

298 The Honey-Makers 

'' Those of them, I mean, who are quick-witted, and, like 
bees on the wing, light on every flower, and out of all 
they hear, gather inferences as to the character and way of 
life which are best for them." 

Plutarch, in his " Life of Lycurgus," has the following : 

'' Upon the whole, he taught his citizens to think nothing 
more disagreeable than to live by or for themselves. Like 
bees, they acted with one impulse for the public good, and 
always assembled about their prince." 

And again, explaining how Greece was kept in voluntary 
obedience by her rulers, he says : " Thus bees, when their 
prince appears, compose their quarrels, and unite in one 

Very much can be said about the use of honey as food 
among the ancients. With them it was one of the staples 
of life, as well as a luxury ; and the incomparable book 
of Athenaeus, '' The Deipnosophists, or Banquet of the 
Learned," has preserved for us many quaint and interesting 
customs of the people during and before his time. From 
him we learn of the various ways in which honey was 
served, and of its place in the feast as well as of its 
importance as a nutrient. Concerning this last he tells 
us: — 

" And it is said that Democritus, the philosopher of 
Abdera, after he had determined to rid himself of life on 
account of his extreme old age, and when he had begun 
to diminish his food day by day, wiien the day of the 
Thesmophorian festival came round, and tlie women of his 
household besought him not to die during the festival, in 
order that they might not be debarred from their share in 
the festivities, was persuaded, and ordered a vessel full of 
honey to be set near him ; and in this way he lived many 
days with no other support than honey ; and then some 
days after, when the lioney had been taken away he 

In Greece and Italy 299 

died. But Democritus had always been fond of honey ; 
and he once answered a man, who asked him how 
he could live in the enjoyment of the best health, 
that he might do so if he constantly moistened his inward 
parts with honey and his outward man with oil. And 
bread and honey was the chief food of the Pythagoreans, 
according to the statement of Aristoxenus, who says that 
those who eat this for breakfast were free from disease all 
their lives. And Lycus says that the Cyrneans (and they 
are a people who live near Sardinia) are very long-lived, be- 
cause they are continually eating honey ; and it is produced 
in great quantities among them." 

The story told by Athenseus of Democritus is told in 
substance by Pliny of PoUio Romilius, as we have already 

We are not surprised to learn that the ambrosia of 
Mount Olympus was composed largely of honey, according 
to Roscher being indeed nothing more nor less than honey 
itself, — a glorified form of that delicacy, one takes for 
granted ; while nectar, that delectable drink of the gods, 
Roscher says was mead! — also no doubt tinctured by 
heavenly contact. 

One gets, from reading /ithenseus, a vivid idea of the 
luxurious living indulged in by some among the ancients. 

He quotes Antiphanes as saying, — 

" Four female flute-players do have their wages, 
Twelve cooks, and just as many sweet-meat makers, 
Asking for plates of honey." 

Thus too we form an idea of the scale upon which feast- 
ing was carried on and also of the amount of honey con- 
sumed at feasts. 

Here may be introduced another quotation from Anti- 

1 See page 222. 

300 The Honey-Makers 

phanes, who gives the following interesting catalogue of the 
ingredients used to prepare a certain dish : — 

" Dried grapes, and salt, and eke new wine 
Newly boiled down, and asafoetida, 
And cheese, and thyme, and sesame, 
And nitre too, and cummin seed. 
And sumach, honey, and marjoram, 
And herbs and vinegar and oil 
And sauce of onions, mustard and capers mixed, 
And parsley, capers too, and eggs. 
And lime, and cardamums, and th' acid juice 
Which comes from the green fig-tree, besides laurel 
And eggs and honey and flour wrapped in fig-leaves, 
- • And all compounded in one savory forcemeat." 

The onion as served by these epicurean cooks was a pa- 
trician and costly vegetable, vying with the sumptuous 
forcemeat ball just described; and Athenseus, quoting 
Philemon, assures us, — 

"Now, if you want an onion just consider 
What great expense it takes to make it good : 
You must have cheese, and honey, and sesame, 
Oil, leeks, and vinegar, and asafoetida. 
To dress it up with ; for by itself the onion 
Is bitter and unpleasant to the taste." 

Lettuce was treated to a yet more remarkable and ex- 
travagant dressing by a certain epicure, — 

" But Aristoxenus, the philosopher of Cyrene, a real 
devotee of the philosophy of his country (from whom 
hams cured in a particular way are called Aristoxeni), out 
of his prodigious luxury used to syringe the lettuces which 
grew in his garden with mead in the evening, and then, 
when he picked them in the morning, he would say that he 
was eating green cheesecakes which were sent up to him 
by the earth." 

A certain very luxurious dish of the Lydians our author 

In Greece and Italy 301 

tells us is mentioned by Alexis in his book " The Spin- 
ners." It is a cook who speaks, lauding his own skill : 

" 'T is a most grand invention, and 't is mine ; 
And if I put a dish of it before you, 
Such will be your delight that you '11 devour 
Your very fingers ere you lose a bit of it. 

You will serve up an egg well shred, and twice 
Boil'd till it's hard ; a sausage, too, of honey; 
Some pickle from the frying-pan, some slices 
Of new-made Cynthian cheese ; and then 
A bunch of grapes, steep'd in a cup of wine : 
But this part of the dish is always laughed at. 
And yet it is the mainstay of the meal." 

Cheesecakes made with honey or served with it were 
very great favorites ; without them no banquet seems to 
have been complete, and they are referred to by many 
of the ancient writers. 

There were many kinds of cheesecakes, some of which 
were made without cheese at all ; but the true cheesecakes 
were made from cheese, usually mixed with some grain and 
often with honey as well. 

Athenasus, desiring to enlighten posterity on the subject 
of cheesecakes, has given us a few recipes which are inter- 
esting if not attractive. Chrysippus, " that clever writer 
on confectionery," he informs us, makes a cheesecake 
called phthosis thus : — 

" Take some cheese and pound it, then put it into a 
brazen sieve and strain it ; then put in honey and a hemina ^ 
of flour made from spring wheat, and beat the whole to- 
gether into one mass." 

Chrysippus does not leave us forlornly contemplating one 
cheesecake, however ; he presents us with knowledge to 
make also the tyrocosci7ium, which is done thus : — 
1 About half a pint. 

302 The Honey-Makers 

'•- Pound some cheese carefully, and put it into a vessel ; 
then place above it a brazen sieve and strain the cheese 
through it. And when you are going to serve it up, then 
put in above it a sufficient quantity of honey." 

Yet other cheesecakes, he tells us, are made thus : — 

" Put some honey into some milk, pound them, and put 
them into a vessel, and let them coagulate ; then, if you 
have some little sieves at hand, put what is in the vessel 
into them, and let the whey run off; and when it appears 
to you to have coagulated thoroughly, then take up the 
vessel in which it is, and transfer it to a silver dish, and the 
coat, or crust, will be uppermost." 

"And also," says he, "in Crete they make a kind of 
cheesecake which they call gastris. And it is made thus : 
Take some Thasian and Pontic nuts and some almonds, 
and also a poppy. Roast this last with great care, and 
then take the seed and pound it in a clean mortar ; then, 
adding the fruits which I have mentioned above, beat them 
up with boiled honey, putting in plenty of pepper, and 
make the whole into a soft mass (but it will be a black 
color because of the poppy) ; flatten it and make it into a 
square shape ; then, having pounded some white sesame, 
soften that too with boiled honey, and draw it out into two 
cakes, placing one beneath and the other above, so as to 
have the black surface in the middle, and make it into a 
neat shape." 

One cannot help wondering whether this medicated 
honey-cake was not the same given to departing spirits to 
quiet Cerberus, and whether, when partaken of by living 
epicures it was most potent in producing nightmare or the 
gorgeous dreams of the opium-eater. Whatever its effect, 
it certainly must have been extraordinary. 

The following is the opinion upon cheesecakes and upon 
honey held by Archestratus, the inventor of made dishes, 
as he called himself. 

In Greece and Italy 303 

" But praise the cheesecakes which from Athens come; 
And if there are none, still of any country 
Cheesecakes are to be eaten ; also ask 
For Attic Honey, the feasts' crowning dish — 
For that it is which makes a banquet noble." 

Antiphanes, in his " Lemnian Women," thus feeUngly 
does justice to the subject : — 

" A three-legg'd table now is laid, and on it 
A luscious cheesecake, O ye honored gods, 
And this year's honey in a silver dish." 

Cheesecakes steeped in honey or covered with honey 
were regarded with great favor for dessert, and we are in- 
formed of the manner in which a guest should express 
appreciation at -a well-ordered table : " One of the guests 
would say of the dessert (which was the second course) 
as Euripides says in his 'Cretan Women,' — 

" ' Certainly, second thoughts are much the best ; 
For what now can the table want ? or what 
Is there with which it is not amply loaded .'' 
'Tis full of fish fresh from the sea, besides 
Here 's tender veal, and dainty dishes of goose. 
Tartlets, and cheesecakes steeped most thoroughly 
In the rich honey of the golden bee. ' " 

Right here let us turn for a moment from the feast of 
Athenaeus to enjoy one of Martial's witty epigrams, written 
to Charinus : — 

"Thirty times in this one year, Charinus, while you 
have been arranging to make your will, have I sent you 
cheesecakes dripping with Hyblcean thyme. I am ruined : 
have pity on me at length, Charinus. Make your will less 
often, or do that once for all for which your cough is ever 
falsely leading us to hope. I have empded my coffers and 
my purse. Had I been richer than Croesus, Charinus, I 

304 The Honey-Makers 

should become poorer than Irus, if you so frequently de- 
voured my poor repast." 

The dessert, or second course, was a lighter but very 
important part of the meal, at which was often served 
the more delicate meats, game, birds, fish, beans, and 
other dehcacies. 

" Eggs, too, often formed a part of the second course, as 
did hares and thrushes, which were served up with honey- 

Thrushes and other small birds were frequently covered 
with honey, and Plato in his " Phaon " — so Athenseus tells 
us — speaks of 

" A vigorous cheesecake, and a pregnant mealcake, 
And sixteen thruslies whole, well smear'd with honey." 

The delectable nature of thrushes served with honey is 
thus graphically set forth by Telechides, — 

" But roasted thrushes with sweet cheese-cakes served 
Flew of their own accord down the guests' throats." 

From Athenaeus we learn that Ephippus in his " Cydon " 
gives the following details of a very substantial dessert : 

" And after supper they served up some kernels, 
Vetches, and beans, and groats, and cheese, and honey, 
Sweetmeats of various kinds, and cakes of sesame, 
And pyramidical rolls of wheat, and apples, 
Nuts, milk, hempseed too, and shell-fish, 
Syrup, the brains of Jove." 

Nichochares in his " Handicraftsmen" boasts, — 

" I 've loaves, and barley-cakes, and bran, and flour, 
And rolls, oblias, and honey'd cheese-cakes, 
Epichyti, ptisan, and common cheese-cakes, 
Dendalides, and fried bread ; " 

In Greece and Italy 305 

giving one a desire to step in and buy, out of curiosity if 
for no other reason, at least a few of those strange-sounding 

At Argos, we are told, was a kind of cheesecake brought 
to the bridegroom from the bride, — 

" It is roasted on the coals, and the friends of the bride- 
groom are invited to eat it ; it is served up with honey, as 
Philetas tells us in his ' Miscellanies.' " 

Magnes in his " Bacchus" inquires, with what unction one 
can imagine, — 

" Have you ne'er seen the fresh cheese-cakes hissing 
When you pour honey over them ? " 

In the " Leptiniscus " of Antiphanes, Athenaeus tells us, 
occurs the following pleasant dialogue : — 

" A. Then what think you of almonds ? 
B. I feel very friendly to them, 
They mingle well with honey. 

A. If a man should bring you honied cheese-cakes? 

B. I should eat them, 

And swallow down an egg or two besides." 

In Antiphanes are found also these hnes, — 

" To eat ducks, and honey-combs of wild bees, and eggs, 
And cheese-cakes, and unwash'd radishes, 
And rape, and oat-meal groats, and honey." 

Honeyed cheesecakes were considered a worthy offering 
to the gods, as says Semus in the second book of the 
" Deliad," — 

" In the island of Hecate the Delians sacrifice to Iris, 
offering her the cheesecakes called basynise ; and this 
is a cake of wheat-flour, and suet, and honey, boiled up 

Honeycakes that were not cheesecakes were also held 

3o6 The Honey-Makers 

in high esteem, as we learn from Archippus in "Heracles 

Marrying," — 

"The board was loaded with rich honey-cakes." 

Honeycakes were made of cereals of various sorts mixed 
with honey, and sometimes they were made of oil and 


The food Chrysocolla, made of honey and flax, most of 
us would be content to leave to the ancients, as also the 
gifts designed for the maiden whom Ibycus thus sings : 

" Bring gifts unto the maiden, cakes of cesame, 
And groats, and cakes of oil and honey mixed, 
And other kinds of pastry, and fresh honey." 

We must not overlook a certain thin cake made of 
sesame and honey which has had the honor of being 
mentioned by Anacreon, Aristophanes, and Sophocles. 

Philetas in his " Miscellanies" speaks of cakes of honey, 
made and sold by a regular baker. 

At the Copis, a Spartan feast, every one receives " a por- 
tion of goat's flesh, and to each a Httle loaf made of oil and 
honey, a newly made cheese, a slice of paunch, and black 
pudding, and sweetmeats and dried figs, and beans and 
green kidney beans." 

Ephippus makes the following confession : — 

" Cakes made of sesame and honey, sweetmeats, 
Cheese-cakes, and cream-cakes, and a hecatomb 
Of new-laid eggs, were all devour'd by us." 

There must be mentioned sesamides, cakes made of 
honey and roasted sesame and oil, of a round shape, not 
unlike the sugar cookies of our childhood probably ; and 
there are the encrides, which are frequently alluded to. 
These are cakes boiled in oil, and after that " seasoned 
with honey." These certainly are the classical progenitors 

In Greece and Italy 307 

of our New England "doughnuts," our oil for boiling being 
from another source than the " fat olive, " and our external 
"seasoning " being of powdered sugar instead of honey. 

" Groats and encrides, 
And other cakes, and fresh sweet honey." 

And Aristophanes speaks of encrides thus : — 

" And not be a seller of encrides." 

Honey was used, as we know, in the making of honeyed 
wine, and upon this point Athenaeus presents Theophrastus, 
who says that " the wine at Thasos which is given in the 
prytaneum, is wonderfully delicious ; for it is well seasoned ; 
for they knead up dough with honey, and put that into 
the earthen jars : so that the wine receives fragrance from 
itself, and sweetness from the honey." 

Martial in one of his epigrams speaks thus enthusiasti- 
cally of honeyed Falernian wine : — 

" Attic honey thickens the nectar-like Falernian. Such 
drink deserves to be mixed by Ganymede." 

But honey itself was used as an antidote to the effects 
of wine, and we find it referred to in this capacity. 

In a poetical fragment of Sopater, the parodist of 
Alexandria, quoted by Athenaeus, we read the following : — 

" 'Tis sweet in early morn to cool the lips 
With pure fresh water from the gushing fount, 
Mingled with honey in the Baucalis, 
When one o'er night has made too free with wine, 
And feels sharp thirst." 

Nicander the Colophonian, in his " Dialects," says that 
celebe is a vessel used by the shepherds in which they pre- 
serve honey. For Antimachus the Colophonian, in the 
fifth book of his "Thebais," says, — 

" He bade the heralds bear to them a bladder 
Fill'd with dark wine, and the most choice of all, 

3o8 The Honey-Makers 

The celebea in his house which lay, 
Fill'd with pure honey." 

And in a subsequent passage he says : — 

" But taking up a mighty celebeum 
In both his hands, well fill'd with richest honey. 
Which in great store he had most excellent." 

And again lie says : — 

And golden cups of \yine, and then besides, 

A celebeum yet untouch'd by man, 

Full of pure honey, his most choice of treasures." 

Eubulus, in his " Rich Woman," humorously describes 
the market at Athens : — 

" And in the same way everything is sold 
Together at Athens ; figs and constables, 
Grapes, turnips, pears and apples, witnesses, 
Roses and medlars, cheese cakes, honeycombs, 
Vetches and law-suits ; bee-strings of all kinds, 
And myrtle-berries, and lots for offices. 
Hyacinths, and lambs, and hour-glasses too. 
And laws and prosecutions." 

The most startling dish of all those in which the bee 
figures is mentioned by Pherecrates, " the strictest Atticist 
of all." He tells us : — 

" There were rivers 

With tender pulse and blackest soup o'er flowing. 

There too were cakes of groats well steep'din milk. 
In large flat dishes, and rich plates of — beestings ! " 

We are enabled to recover our serenity, however, 
through Martial, who in one of his epigrams elucidates 
the mystery. The name of the epigram in the English 
translation is Beestings, and it reads thus : — 

" We give you, from the first milk of the mothers, suck- 
lings of which the shepherd has deprived the dams while 
yet unable to stand." 

In Greece and Italy 309 

From this it would appear that the dish of the terrifying 
name is in reality composed of perfectly innocent and 
extremely young lambs or kids. In short, the whole mis- 
apprehension arises from a somewhat unfortunate word 
used in the English translation. For beestings or biestings, 
as it is more properly written, in English means the iirst 
milk from a fresh milch cow or other milk-giving domestic 
animal, and is derived from the Anglo-Saxon. Evidently 
it has at times been used of the new-born animals them- 
selves, and is so used in the present case. 

Besides its very agreeable use at the table, honey, as in 
all other parts of the world, was valued as a medicine by 
the Greeks and Latins, and also as a medium for adminis- 
tering medicine, particularly to children, for it would seem 
that the infants of antiquity, although they doubtless 
acquired the Latin tongue with ease at an early age, did 
not differ in other respects from modern children. 

One can but hope in mercy to them that the honey in 
their wormwood was sweeter to their palates than the learn- 
ing their wise ones prepared for them is to the modern mind. 
Quintilian thus enlightens us upon both subjects in his 
" Institutes of the Orator," a work which treats of the 
education of children in a manner that justifies the fear 
he expresses in the last paragraph : — 

" Hitherto we have endeavored to embellish our work 
with something agreeable, not for making an ostentatious 
show of wit, as for that purpose we could have chosen 
a more copious matter; but in order that young persons, 
induced by some pleasure in reading, might the easier 
receive the instruction we judged necessary for helping 
their studies ; which, if it had been conceived in a dry, 
hungry manner, there was reason to fear it would beget 
loathing in their minds, and grate with harshness on their 
delicate ears. In a finer view% Lucretius says, he delivered 

oio The Honey-Makers 

the precepts of philosophy in verse, and therefore uses 

this famihar comparison : — 

' Physician-like, who-when a bitter draught 
Of wormwood is disgusted by a child, 
To cheat his taste, he brims the nauseous cup 
With the sweet lure of honey.' 

And, indeed, I am apprehensive that this Book may 
seem to have Uttle honey in it, and a great deal of worm- 
wood, that is, may be more salubrious than sweet to 

That bees were extensively cultivated in Greece before 
600 B. c. we know from the fact that one of Solon's laws re- 
lated to them, for Plutarch tells us, in his " Life of Solon " : 
" If any one would raise stocks of bees, he was to place 
them three hundred feet from those already raised by 

The bees receive their chief attention in Greek and Latin 
literature, however, from the writers upon practical agricul- 
ture or natural history. Aristotle has devoted more space 
to the bees in his " History of Animals," than to any other 
insect, and he has gathered together what was known of 
bees and bee-keeping in his time, and has so well done his 
work that succeeding writers almost to the present day 
have copied him. 

Bee-keeping in the time of Aristotle did not differ essen- 
tially from bee-keeping tifty years ago, in some respects 
being superior, as evidently it was the habit of the Greeks 
to remove the combs from the hives without killing the 
bees, — a cruel and wasteful practice followed by succeed- 
ing generations even to the present time. 

The Greeks generally used smoke to quiet the bees, as is 
done by the more advanced bee-keepers to-day, and the 
industrious insects were not as a rule smoked to death with 
fumes of sulphur, though it is not improbable this was some- 

In Greece and Italy 311 

times done, as Aristotle says that many bees perish by the 
fumes of sulphur, though he also incidentally informs us 
upon the other side of this interesting subject, where he 
says, — 

" The bees do not hunt for prey, but they both produce 
and lay up stores. This is plainly shown when the honey- 
dealers attempt to take the combs. When they are fumi- 
gated and suffering from the effects of the smoke, they 
devour the honey greedily, which they are not observed to 
do at other times ; but they spare it and store it up for 

Smoking wild bees to get their honey was practised, as 
Apollonius Rhodius, who lived a little later than Aristotle, 
tells us in his " Argonauts," where the Greek heroes 
affrighted the overweening Bebryces who attacked them, — 

" As shepherds or bee-keepers smoke a mighty swarm of 
bees in a rock ; and these the while, all huddled in their 
hive, buzz round confusedly ; and far from the rock they 
dart, smoked right through by the sooty fumes ; so these 
men no longer abode steadfastly, but fled routed within 
Bebrycia, carrying the news of the death of Amycus." 

Virgil also compares the disorder among the Latins at 
the onset of ^neas to a swarm of bees driven forth by 
smoke : ■ — 

"Among the trembling citizens dissension arises; some 
press to dismantle the town, and open the gates to the 
Trojans, and drag the king himself to the ramparts. Others 
take up arms, and march on to defend the walls. 

" As when a shepherd hath traced out a swarm of bees 
enclosed in some harboring cleft, and filled their cells with 
bitter smoke ; they within, alarmed for their affairs, in 
trepidation run hither and thither through the waxen camp, 
and with loud buzzing whet their rage : through their cells 
the black stench is rolled ; then with faint murmur the 

3 r 2 The Honey-Makers 

caverns within resound ; to the empty regions of air the 
smoke ascends." 

We recall also the simile of the bees killed by smoke in 
Lycophron's " Cassandra." ^ 

The ancient Greeks knew all that could be known con- 
cerning the management of bees so far as this can be car- 
ried on without the revelations of modern science. They 
observed carefully and carefully recorded the results of 
their observations, and the amount of information they 
acquired is remarkable considering the crude methods of 
scientific study then followed. 

Many mistakes of course crept into these observations, 
and many absurdities were gravely recorded and handed 
on by Aristotle, who wrote, however, with a sincerity and 
straightforwardness as well as with a guarded manner of 
expression that resembles the style of modern scientists. 
His followers were often prone to embellish the facts, but 
this Aristotle never does. 

The Roman Pliny, some four hundred years later than 
Aristotle, wrote an elaborate treatise on bees as a part of 
his " Natural History." His work has survived, and to-day 
is the best known of the ancient works on nature, including 
bees, though there were many other books written before 
his time in which bees were considered. He himself tells 
us : — 

" It is not surprising that there have been persons who 
have made bees their exclusive study; Aristomachus of 
Soli, for instance, who for a period of fifty-eight years did 
nothing else ; Philiscus of Thasos, also, surnamed Agrius 
(or the Svild man'), who passed his life in desert spots, 
tending swarms of bees. Both of these have written works 
on this subject." 

The Romans attained the greater part of their practical 
1 Page 285. 

In Greece and Italy 3 i 3 

knowledge of bee-keeping from the Greeks, who, wander- 
ing in colonies to Italy and Sicily, pursued bee-culture as a 
part of their agricultural life. 

The Roman Varro wrote upon bees just before Virgil ; 
and Columella, who a httle later than Virgil also wrote 
upon agriculture and bee-keeping, tells us that his tutor 
Hyginus, the bee-master, was the most learned of bee-men 
in his time, that he had gathered together the works of his 
contemporaries and predecessors, and had added valuable 
information that came as a result of his own observations. 
Hyginus's works are unfortunately lost, but there remains to 
us the poet Virgil, who devoted his fourth " Georgic " to 
bees, and there tells us what was known concerning the 
management of bees as well as many of the curious 
superstitions about them. 

There is a long line of lesser lights, of which there are 
not less than seventy names of Greek agriculturists known, 
whose writings, unfortunately lost, contained treatises on 

According to some writers, no less than six hundred 
philosophers gave themselves to the study of these interest- 
ing insects. But in spite of this, httle was gained beyond 
what Aristotle had already recorded, even Pliny's somewhat 
voluminous work upon bees being little more than an ornate 
version of Aristotle. About the time that Pliny was writing 
his elaborate "Natural History" Columella was engaged 
upon his agricultural work in which he describes a smoker 
designed and used for quieting bees, showing to what an 
extent the industry of bee-keeping was followed in his 


The ideas, right and wrong, of the ancients have already 
been considered in connection with the life history of the 


Bee-keeping in ancient Greece and Italy was of great 

314 The Honey-Makers 

importance to the farmer, the proceeds in wax and honey 
forming a valuable part of his revenue. Even the poorest 
peasants kept their bees, placing the hives in the open air 
of field or forest. 

It was not only among the agriculturists, however, that 
bees were valued. At the time of the Roman Empire the 
love of bee-keeping accompanied the wide-spread love 
for villas, and bee-culture became a matter of fashion among 
the wealthy Romans, Bees were hived in the walls of 
villas, under the covered piazzas of pleasure grounds and 
in fruit gardens and parks, and especially in bee-houses 
near the villas. 

Columella gives a reason for having the hives close to 
the house which is not to the credit of the peasants. He 
advises that they be placed near the house so that the 
owner can frequently come upon them unawares ; adding 
that success in bee-culture demands the greatest honesty 
and fidelity, and that the bees themselves hate and abhor a 
fraudulent overseer. 

Cicero, in his " Essay on Old Age," considers the suc- 
cessful production of honey an essential to good farming. 

It was the proper thing to give to the valued guest fresh 
honey taken from the hives of the host. 

Wax as well as honey had its value, as it was used for 
medicines and as a foundation for plasters and salves. 

Wax was sometimes used to fashion the little figures of 
ancestors which were kept in the houses and produced 
upon certain ceremonial occasions. It was also used to 
form miniature images of animals which were bought by 
those too poor to buy living animals for the sacrifices. 

The making of wax flowers and wax fruits, trivial as the 
occupation is now deemed, where it is done merely for 
amusement, has a very respectable origin, for the making 
of fruits and flowers in wax was carried to great perfection 

In Greece and Italy 3 i 5 

in Rome and also in Alexandria. We are told that wax 
fruits were so remarkably made that once the stoical court 
philosopher of King Ptolemaeus saw upon the table a dish 
of pomegranates looking so natural that he bit one ! 

Varro praises the artfulness of the Roman wax-worker 
Posis, who made apples and bunches of grapes so like 
nature that the connoisseur could not distinguish them. 

Masks taken after death, which were used in funeral pro- 
cessions, were ultimately cast in wax. 

Pliny tells us that — 

''The first man who expressed the human features by 
fitting a mould of plaster upon the face, and then improving 
it by pouring melted wax into the cast, was Lysistratus of 
Sicyon." He was the first to make faithful likenesses, his 
predecessors, like certain modern photographers, having 
striven only to produce a handsome image. 

When a man became celebrated his figure in wax 
appeared in the atrium of the private house as well as in 
pubhc buildings. 

Doubtless referring to this, Tacitus, in a dialogue concern- 
ing " Oratory," says : — 

"The homage of visitors, the train of attendants, and 
the multitude of clients, which Aper has represented in 
such pompous colors, have no charms for me ; no more 
have those sculptured honors which he mentioned ; though 
they too have made their way into my house, notwithstand- 
ing my inclinations to the contrary." 

And Juvenal in his satires says : — 

" Though your long line of ancient statues adorn your 
ample halls on every side, the sole and only real nobihty is 

At the principal festivals of Saturn, Bacchus, and Ceres, 
wax candles and wax wreaths were much used. 

Wax images and wax fruits were also extensively used 

3i6 The Honey-Makers 

in the celebrations of the festival of the resurrection of 
Adonis, though this festival was observed with the greatest 
splendor at Alexandria in Egypt during the time of Greek 
pre-eminence there, Queen Arsinoe herself giving it in 
magnificent style. 

The lovely Adonis, dear to Aphrodite, represented the 
living procreative form of nature, which dying in winter has 
a glorious resurrection in spring. 

The death of Adonis was first celebrated, and lamenta- 
tions continued for seven days. Upon the eighth he arose 
from the dead and the people broke forth in jubilee. The 
week of lamentation, as Brugsch points out, recalls the holy 
week, the time of mourning for the dead Lord, which is still 
observed in the Roman Catholic church and other 

At the Adonis festival the women placed about the cata- 
falque — upon which was an image of the god — waxen 
figures of fruit and animals, and there were also little figures 
of the god brought out to public view. 

A most delightful account of an Adonis festival in 
Alexandria is given by Theocritus in the fifteenth ''Idyl." 

Two women of Syracuse go together to the festival, and 
as the translator, Andrew Lang, in the introduction truly 
says, " Nothing can be more gay and natural than the 
chatter of the women, which has changed no more in two 
thousand years than the song of birds." 

Not wax images alone were used at the festival of Adonis, 
which at its termination was a veritable outburst of gladness 
and good clieer, but natural fruits and other objects were 
used, some of which are enumerated in the beautiful Psalm 
of Adonis, occurring in the " Idyl " already referred to : 

" Before him lie all ripe fruits that the tall trees' branches 
bear, and the delicate gardens, arrayed in baskets of silver, 
and the golden vessels are full of incense of Syria. And 

In Greece and Italy 317 

all the dainty cakes that women fashion in the kneading 
tray, mingling blossoms manifold' with the white wheaten 
flour, all that is wrought of honey sweet, and in soft olive 
oil, all cakes fashioned in the semblance of things that fly, 
and of things that creep, lo, here they are set before 

Less innocent were some of the uses to which wax was 
put, and we learn that wax images among the ancients were 
used by sorcerers with the expectation of working harm to 
their fellow-men. In his " Laws," in the chapter relating 
to poisoning and sorcery, Plato has the following advice 
to offer, for although he evidently does not himself heartily 
believe in the efficacy of these waxen images he recognizes 
the power they exert over the minds of the people : — 

" And when men are disturbed in their minds at the 
sight of waxen images fixed either at their doors, or in a 
place where three ways meet, or on the sepulchres of 
parents, there is no use in trying to persuade them that 
they should despise all such things because they have no 
certain knowledge about them. 

" But we must have a law in two parts, concerning poi- 
soning, in whichever of the two ways the attempt is made, 
and we must entreat, and exhort, and advise men not to 
have recourse to such practices, by which they scare the 
multitude out of their wits, as if they were children, com- 
pelling the legislator and the judge to heal the fears which 
the sorcerer arouses, and to tell them in the first place, that 
he who attempts to poison or enchant others knows not 
what he is doing, either as regards the body (unless he has 
a knowledge of medicine), or as regards his enchantments 
(unless he happens to be a prophet or diviner). Let the 
law, then, run as follows about poisoning or witchcraft : 
He who employs poison to do any injury, not fatal, to a 
man himself, or to his servants, or any injury, whether fatal 

3 1 8 The Honey-Makers 

or not, to his cattle or his bees, if he be a physician, and 
be convicted of poisoning, sliall be punished with death ; 
or if he be a private person, the court shall determine what 
he is to pay or suffer. But he who seems to be the sort of 
man who injures others by magic knots, or enchantments, 
or incantations, or any of the like practices, if he be a 
prophet or diviner, let him die ; and if, not being a prophet, 
he be convicted of witchcraft, as in the previous case, let 
the court fix what he ought to pay or suffer," 

We also incidentally are informed in the last paragraph 
of the estimation in which bees were held. 

Wax was used, too, to cover the surface of writing tablets, 
as upon its yielding substance hnes could be traced with the 
stylus. It was also used to wax the pipes of shepherds, 
and was put to innumerable other uses. 

Pliny tells us that Punic wax was considered best for 
medical preparations, also, ''Wax is made black by addition 
of ashes of papyrus, and a red color is given to it by ad- 
mixture of alkanet ; indeed, by the employment of various 
pigments, it is made to assume various tints, in which state 
it is used for making likenesses, and for other purposes 
without number, among which we may mention varnishing 
walls and armor to protect them from the air." 



The bee of the Middle Ages is a sombre bee. It does 
not fly joyously through light-hearted love-songs, but rather 
lends itself to purposes of moralizing, enters into magic and 
symbolism, and becomes a part of all kinds of superstition. 

The myths of the pagan times have given place to the 
legends of the new religion. In these Christian times it is 
the wax which has become important, as in Greek and Latin 
classical ages it was the honey, and in India it was the bee 
itself; for the wax is necessary to supply the tapers burned 
in the churches. 

The Fathers of the Church, Saint Jerome, Saint Basil, 
Tertullian, and others got from the bee many and varied 
allegorical references to the life of the Christian, which 
were copied by their successors. 

The Romans are said to have estabhshed the first exten- 
sive bee-industry on the Rhine, but the Germans were not 
slow to follow the lead thus given them. The outposts of 
colonization in Germany being the monasteries whose 
monks pursued agriculture and bee-keeping, it is not sur- 
prising that, living as they did with the bees, and closely 
observing their orderly and remarkable habits, they too 
drew many lessons from them, in addition to those they 
received from the Latin Fathers. 

Honey, which in the pagan world everywhere symbolized 
the pleasures of the senses, in the Christian world became 

320 The Honey-Makers 

symbolical of the temptations of the flesh on the one hand, 
and of purity on the other. 

The bee, in so far as it lived pure and unspotted with 
clean wings in the midst of honey, was a symbol of the 
soul which kept itself pure and unspotted from the temp- 
tations of the senses. 

Honey, as symbolical of purity, was used the day on 
which Christ rose from the dead, when it was mingled 
with milk in the communion cup. 

A drop of honey was also put into the mouth of the 
child at baptism, the gift of pure bees, symbohzing spiritual 

Honey was also eaten on Maundy Thursday, and in 
some places is still, probably with its old significance of 
purification, and as a preparation for Easter. 

Upon the Jewish New Year Day a piece of apple dipped 
in honey is eaten previous to the elaborate evening meal, 
a prayer being offered to the " Creator of the fruit of the 
earth," the fruit and the honey symbolizing prosperity or 
" sweet peace." 

Bees were to the early Christians, as to the pagans of 
Greece and Italy, an emblem of eloquence and wisdom, 
and are fabled to have placed themselves upon the lips of 
many of the Fathers of the Church when they were in their 
infancy, so that Saint Ambrose, Saint Isidor, Saint Domini- 
cns, and others were treated by them as of old Plato, 
Pindar, and other pagan writers were treated. 

Because of their eloquence, which was said to be as sweet 
as honey, a bee-hive was the emblem of Chrysostom, of 
Ambrose, and of the so-called Doctor Mellifiuus, Bernard 
of Clairvaux. 

The Nestorian bishop Shelemon, about 1222 A. D., wrote 
in Syriac the " Book of the Bee," the object and method 
of which he explains in an address to a brother bishop, — 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 321 

"We have called this book the 'Book of the Bee,' be- 
cause we have gathered of the blossoms of the two testa- 
ments and of the flowers of the holy Books, and have 
placed them therein for thy benefit. As the common bee 
with gauzy wings flies about, and flutters over and lights 
upon flowers of various colors, and upon blossoms of divers 
odors, selecting and gathering from all of them the ma- 
terials which are useful for the construction of her handi- 
work ; and having first of all collected the materials from 
the flowers, carries them upon her thighs, and bringing 
them to her dwelling, lays a foundation for her building 
with a base of wax ; then, gathering in her mouth some of 
the heavenly dew which is upon the blossoms of spring, 
brings it and blows it into these cells, and weaves the 
comb and honey for the use of men and her own nourish- 
ment, in like manner have we, etc.," — that which follows 
being an explanation of the Scriptures and the spiritual 
life, rendered in a manner not infrequently used by the 
early writers. 

Bees sometimes appear in the legends as companions of 
the saints. When Saint Modomoc left Ireland they fol- 
lowed him over the sea, as they also did Saint David ; and 
about the head of another saint, who became a monk, they 
placed themselves in the form of a tonsure. 

By her prayers Saint Gabinate was able to transform 
a hive of bees into armed warriors, who were very 
efficient in repulsing the enemy, and they are said to 
have driven away the foe from the monastery of Saint 

In few instances have the bees been accused of disloyalty 
to the Church and her saints, but this sometimes occurred, 
as when Saint Albericus was placed naked among them. 
Probably they did not recognize him in that unaccustomed 
state, and so fell upon and stung him. 

322 The Honey-Makers 

A far more pious use was made of their stings in the case 
of Saint Medard : — 

" When a thief by night had stolen Saint Medard's bees, 
the bees in their master's quarrel, leaving their hive, set 
upon the malefactor ; and eagerly pursuing him which way 
soever he ran, would not cease stinging of him, until they 
had made him (whether he would or not) to go back again 
to their master's house ; and there falling prostrate at his 
feet, submissively to cry him mercy for the crime committed. 
Which being done, so soon as the saint extended unto him 
the hand of benediction, the bees, like obedient servants, 
did forthwith stay from persecuting him, and yielded them- 
selves to the ancient possession and custody of their 

In a book of songs used by the Moravians the wound in 
the side of the Saviour is compared to a rose ; and he who 
derives love and devotion from contemplating the wounds 
of the self-sacrificing Christ is compared to the bee which 
sucks the honey from the rose. 

" Ye green branch, ye noble scion, 
Ye honey rich flower, 
Ye open paradise, 
Grant my prayer. 
Let my soul be a little bee 
Upon the rose of thy wound I 
Ah, ah, how sweet is this dew, 
Flow lovely to my soul I 
How good to be upon such a meadow, 
In such a flower cup ! 
Let me ever be a little bee 
Upon the rose of thy wound." 

And again, 

" O Lord Jesus, give to me gifts 
Such as the wise bees have. 
Since I have reconciled myself to thee 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 323 

Upon the roses of thy wounds, 

May I bear home in my mouth and in my heart 

The virgin honey of thy blood," 

In the church hymns of a later day we find a similar 
idea, as in a long hymn by Ernest Gottlieb Waltersdorf, com- 
posed in the middle of the eighteenth century, which takes 
the bee for its symbolical subject and from which the fol- 
lowing lines are given in a somewhat free translation, — 

" The bees creep into the deep flower-cup, and what 
can better be for me and all poor souls than to hide in the 
wounds of Jesus, which at all hours stand open. 

" The bee builds its little cell from flower sap. My 
Jesus, the power of thy spirit serves me upon all occasions. 
I build for myself a strong dwelling from thy grace. 

" The bees never suffer but one king among them. Ah, 
Jesus, help us all to shun idols, that our hearts may be 
surrendered in love and truth to thee alone." 

Sometimes, however, the bee was turned as a weapon 
against the Church, as where Marnix in the sixteenth cen- 
tury wrote a " A Roman Beehive" as a satire upon the 
Romish church. 

And every one knows of Mandeville's " Fable of the 
Bees," written in 1729. This unfortunate book was consid- 
ered so anti-Christian that it was burned in London by the 
hangman, though one reading it to-day would probably 
cast it aside as being more stupid than dangerous. 

Bees appear upon the coat-of-arms of the house of Bar- 
berini, to wliich family Pope Urban VIII. belonged, and 
when he built the church Delia Sapienza in Rome, he is 
said to have taken the form of the bee for the ground-plan. 

It was believed that at the death of their owner the bees 
left their hives in search of him, unless his demise was 
promptly and formally announced to them, and this belief 
still prevails in the western and northern countries. More- 

-^24 The Honey-Makers 

over, it is in some places believed that the souls of people 
leave the world and return to it in the form of bees, —a 
myth with which we are already familiar in the more 
eastern lands. 

With its heavenward-striving flight in the realms of light, 
the bee is a symbol of resurrection. It does not here, as 
in Greece and Italy, come forth from a dead body, though 
we are told that Christ has been compared to the sacrificial 
bull, and the Christians to the bees that came forth from 
it^ — a figure evidently borrowed from classical literature. 

Peter of Capua called Christ " Apis aetheria," and he is 
elsewhere denominated, '' Our honey." 

Because of their faith and their good works prominent 
virgins were credited with the attributes of bees, and Saint 
Ambrose calls Saint Agnes "Apis argumentosa," This re- 
calls the name of " Melissa " given to the priestesses of the 
pagan deities. 

In a painting by Titian of the Virgin Mary the Christ 
Child is holding a bee in his hand, and the Virgin Mary 
has been denominated " the honey of the world." 

Thomas of Cantiprat wrote a religious work in which all 
the Christian virtues are shown to reside in bees. 

But Pater Abraham a Santa Clara in his book compares 
only the monastic life to the bee-hive, because the bees 
live as virgins ; and this idea was the fundamental one in the 
illustrations drawn from bees by many others of the churchly 
fathers. The bee was very generally a symbol of the 
greatest purity, and the Immaculate Conception has been 
compared to the flower from which the bee extracted 
honey without violating it. 

Herbert said, — 

" Bees work for men, and yet they never bruise 
Their Master's flower, but leave it, having done, 
As fair as ever and as fit to use ; 
So both the flower doth stay and honey run." 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 325 

This reminds us of lines from the Buddhist " Dhamma- 
pada " : — 

*' As the bee collects nectar and departs without injuring 
the flower or its color or scent, so let a sage dwell in his 

It was because of the supposed purity of the bee that 
honey and wax had their significance in religious cere- 
monies. Church candles must needs be made of pure, 
unadulterated beeswax. 

There is a legend that the monastery of Altenberg was 
founded by bees. 

The pious priest Gottfried once saw bees under a 
bramble-bush busily forming a beautiful altar of wax to 
which came the beasts of the fields and bowed themselves 
down, and upon the spot he built a chapel, still called the 
bee chapel. Having done this, in a dream he saw ap- 
proach a long procession of white-clad, flower-bedecked 
maidens. The dream was soon verified, for the bones of 
some of the unfortunate virgins of Saint Ursula's train were 
brought there, and from the little chapel grew the great and 
celebrated monastery of Altenberg. 

To the confusion of certain unbelievers who impiously 
threw away the consecrated wafer, the devout bees upon 
several occasions are said to have cared for the holy relic. 

In his " Feminin Monarch! " Charles Butler gives us a 
very interesting account of some of these legends. He tells 
us : — 

" There were bees so wise and skilful as not only to 
descry a certain little God-a-raighty, though he came among 
them in likeness of a Wafercake ; but also to build him an 
artificial chapel. If I should relate the story, all men, I 
know, would not believe it : notwithstanding, because 
every man may make some use of it, you shall have it. 

" A certain simple woman, having some stalls of bees, 

326 The Honey-Makers 

which yielded not unto her her desired profit, but did con- 
sume and die of the Murrain, made her moan to another 
woman more simple than herself ; who gave her counsel to 
get a consecrated Host, and put it among them. 

"According to whose advice she went to the priest to 
receive the Host ; which, when she had done, she kept it 
in her mouth, and being come home again, she took it out, 
and put it into one of her hives. Whereupon the murrain 
ceased, and the honey abounded. The woman, therefore, 
lifting up the hive at the due time to take out the honey, 
saw there (most strange to be seen) a chapel built by the 
bees, with an altar in it, the walls adorned by marvellous 
skill of architecture, with windows conveniently set in their 
places ; also a door and a steeple with bells. And the 
Host being laid upon the altar, the bees, making a sweet 
noise, flew round about it. 

" Unto this story my author immediately addeth another, 
like unto it, and as likely : How certain thieves, having 
stolen the silver box wherein the Wafer-Gods used to he, 
and finding one of them there, being loth, behke, that he 
should lie abroad all night, did not cast him away, but laid 
him under a hive ; whom, the bees acknowledging, advanced 
to a high room in the hive ; and there, instead of his silver 
box, made him another of the whitest wax ; and when they 
had so done, in worship of him, at set hours, they sung 
most sweetly beyond all measure about it ; yea, the owner 
took them at it at midnight, with a light and all. Where- 
with the Bishop, being made acquainted, came thither 
with many others ; and lifting up the hive, he saw there, 
near the top, a most fine box, wherein the host was laid, 
and the choirs of bees singing about it. The Bishop, there- 
fore, taking the host, carried it with the greatest honor into 
the church ; whither many resorting were cured of innu- 
merable diseases." 

In Christian and Medieval Times 327 

These stories Butler gets from a Latin writer, and in dif- 
ferent parts of Germany and in neighboring countries are 
many similar legends of bees building a waxen chapel or a 
monstrance over a lost or desecrated host. 

When Saint Bonizella died alone, the bees came and 
formed in the hand of the dead virgin a beautiful waxen 
communion cup. It is also reported that bees entered the 
grave and built their combs in the bodies of two holy vir- 
gins of Verona. 

The bee was considered a servant of God and of the 
Church because of its power to produce pure wax, and the 
loss of a swarm of bees was a grave misfortune, portending 
ill to the house which it deserted. 

There is a Latin adjuration to the bee which may thus 
be translated : — 

" Ye are the handmaidens of the Lord ; I implore you 
in the name of the Lord not to flee from the sons of 

There was also a remarkable blessing to be pronounced 
over bees, found upon the cover of a book dated 1570, in 
a certain library in Germany. Being translated, it reads 
thus : — • 

" Maria stood upon a very high mountain. She beheld a 
swarm of bees flying towards her. She raised her benefi- 
cent hand. She forbade it to depart and made to it prom- 
ises of happiness. She placed for it a hive that Saint 
Joseph had made. Into that she bade it enter and there 
enjoy life, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy 
Ghost. Amen." 

An exorcism to the queen of the hive is also found in a 
Latin ecclesiastical work : — 

" I implore thee, mother of the bees, through God the 
King of Heaven and through the Redeemer the Son of the 
Lord, that thou fliest not high, nor far, but that rather thou 

328 The Honey-Makers 

comest at once to a tree ; there gather with all thy kind, or 
with thy companions. 

"There have I prepared for thee a good hive, that there 
thou mayst labor in the name of the Father, the Son, and 
the Holy Ghost. Amen." 

These bee-myths of the Middle Ages had a symbolical 
meaning that at the present time they have lost, though a 
certain superstitious feeling still lingers in the rural portions 
of several countries ; and in Germany one can hear the 
song, — 

" Bienlein, Bienlein, 
Bleib bei mir im griinen Gras, 
Wo einst Jesus, Maria, and Joseph satz." 

Little bee, little bee, 

Stay by me on the' green grass, 

Where once Jesus, Mary, and Joseph sat. 

Menzel tells of an old Catholic hymn which calls the 
passage of the holy ones who ascend to heaven from earth 
a swarm of bees in safe flight, sweetly laden with their 

This recalls a similar figure used by Sophocles and 
already quoted : — 

" In swarms while wandering from the dead, 
A humming sound is heard." 

In the " Ancient Laws of Wales" we read : — 
" The origin of the bees is from Paradise, — because of 
the sins of man have they left the garden of Eden. But 
God gave them a blessing to take into the world : they 
alone produce the treasures of honey and wax; without 
these the mass cannot be read." 

This is the ecclesiastical version of that story of classical 
antiquity where the bees are fabled to have survived alone 
of all creatures from the time of the golden age, and to have 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 329 

brought with them from that blessed time the art of making 

Bees, as ministers of the Church, were not exempt from 
obedience to divine law. 

According to a German legend, the good Lord willed 
that bees, like men, should rest on Sunday from their work. 
This command of the Creator the bees in their excessive 
zeal disregarded, overcome by temptation to gather the 
abundant honey of the red clover. As a punishment, God 
closed to them the blossoms of this flower, and never again 
were they able to gather its nectar, — a fact in nature which 
modern scientists have noted, but to which they have given 
a somewhat different interpretation. 

Wax was much used in the early history of the church 
for other purposes than the making of candles. The fol- 
lowers of the new religion also had their votive images. 
These at first, while partaking of the magic of the pagan 
images, were put to a good instead of a bad use. 

The devout believed that their wishes would be granted 
through the influence of wax images, and by means of 
them they gave thanks. 

In Germany and neighboring countries, the form of 
that portion of the body affected by disease was moulded 
in wax and placed in the church, or in earlier times at 
the cross-roads, in the belief that in this way recovery 
would be insured. 

Childless couples also made an offering of the waxen 
image of a child, if they could not aff"ord one of silver, 
hoping thus to become possessed of offspring. 

The Church was quick to take advantage of this popular 
custom, and received these votive images. Wherefore one 
finds to this day in chapels and on the altars of celebrated 
places of pilgrimage the familiar hands, feet, arms, and 
other parts of the body formed in miniature from wax. 

ooo The Honey-Makers 

In parts of Holland and Low Germany a fish-like form 
is offered as a sacrifice for the whole body. 

There is a German legend repeated to this eff"ect : — 

" Whoso offers a hand of wax 
To Mm is healed the wound upon his hand. 
And whoso offers a foot of wax 
To him his foot becomes whole." 

But all too soon this simple act of faith changed to the 
pagan magic. The science of " Azman/' practised by 
means of a waxen goblin, became a wide-spread secret 

It is said that at the ceremony of initiation in the art 
of Azman, the baptismal rite was performed in the most 
solemn manner with the use of holy water, this sacrilegious 
act being considered necessary to give power to the image 
of wickedness. 

In a book written in 1455 by Dr. Hartlieb we are 
told : — 

" One finds certain sorcerers who make Atzmana of wax 
and other things. They make these at certain hours and 
pronounce over them certain incantations and names, and 
hang them where they can swing freely in the air. It 
is believed that when the wind stirs them, the persons 
in whose names the images were made, shall have no 

These Atzmana were immersed in water, toasted by the 
fire, or stuck through with needles and buried under the 
door-step, as well as hung in the air, it being believed 
that the person intended to be bewitched through the 
image would suffer all the torments inflicted upon it. 

It was considered of great importance that the features 
of the person to be bewitched should be copied as ac- 
curately as possible in wax. If needles were stuck into 
the image, the bewitched person represented by it felt 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 331 

great pain ; and if the needles were stuck into its heart 
or head, the bewitched person died. 

There were ways of escaping from the evil threatened 
by the Atzman, one of which the following story from the 
" Gesta Romanorum " illustrates : — 

A pious man went to Rome to visit Saint Peter and 
Saint Paul ; and while he was gone, there came to his wife 
a travelling scholar — as they are called — who be- 
sought her in marriage. The woman replied that her 
husband had gone to Rome, but if he were dead or if her 
companion could slay him, she would prefer him before 
all other men. 

He replied that he could easily kill him, and went out 
and bought six pounds of wax and made of it an image. 

As the pious man entered the city of Rome, came one 
to him and said, " O thou son of death, why goest thou 
hither and thither? If none help thee, thou wilt to-day 
be living and dead." 

The man said, '' Why should this be ? " 

The stranger replied, " Come to my house and I will 
show thee." 

Then he took him home, prepared for him a bath of 
water, put him in it, gave into his hand a mirror, and said, 
" Look therein ! " 

And he sat by his side and read in a book and spake 
unto him, " Look in the mirror; what seest thou there?" 

He in the bath replied, — 

" I see in my house one who places a waxen image 
on the wall and goes away and takes the cross-bow and 
bends it and is about to shoot at the image ! " 

The stranger replied, " If thou valuest thy life, plunge 
under the water when he is about to shoot." 

The man did so. The other read farther in the book 
and said, "Look, what seest thou?" 

332 The Honey-Makers 

Tlie man replied, " I see that he has failed and is very 
sad, and my wife with him." 

The travelling scholar, having prepared to shoot another 
arrow, standing only half as far away as before, the stranger 
again warned the man in the bath at the right moment, 
and he, plunging beneath the water, escaped the fatal shaft. 
" Look, what seest thou ? " inquired the stranger as before, 
and the man in the bath replied, " I see that he has 
again failed, and is very sad and says to my wife, ' If I 
fail the third time, I am a dead man.' " 

The scholar made ready and went close to the image 
that he might not fail. 

Then he who read in the book said, " Plunge ! " 

The man plunged before the shot. " Look," said the 
other, " now what dost thou see ? " 

He replied, " I see that he has failed for the third time, 
and the arrow has gone into himself and he is dead and 
my wife is burying him under the house." 

The stranger said, " Now get up and go thy way." 

The man wished to reward his saviour, but the latter 
would not allow it and said, " Pray to God for me." 

When the rescued man went home again his wife wished 
to receive him in a friendly manner, but he would not be 
agreeable to her and called in her relatives and told them 
the whole story. The woman denied it, whereupon he took 
the people to the place where she had buried the scholar 
and dug him up. Then they took the woman and burned 
her, which was her just reward. 

Similar stories are found in abundance in Germany, 
Poland, Finland, and other northern countries. 

Naturally this practice of magic by means of wax ex- 
tended far beyond the churchly bounds, and we learn that 
the Slavic people used it in divination. The priests of the 
god Potrimpos, who was the fortune-bringer in war as in 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 333 

peace, the dispenser of the fruitfulness of the fields, and all 
household good-fortune, prophesied by means of figures 
formed by melted wax poured upon water. 

A story is told of a mother who went to the high-priest 
of Potrimpos to learn the whereabouts of her absent son, 
and was told that he had been shipwrecked, as the wax 
poured upon the water took the form of a wrecked ship 
and of a swimming man. 

It is said that the disease known as " ignis sacer," sacred 
fire, or pestilential erysipelas, was cured by means of wax 
dissolved in water. 

Very naturally the magic art connected with wax im- 
ages found its way to many countries, and even as far West 
as Scotland we learn of its currency among the people. 

It seems that the Scottish king. Duff, having shown 
signs of wasting away, his counsellors suspected magic. A 
search was instituted and an old woman was finally dis- 
covered who was accused of having bound a waxen image 
of the king to the spit and turned it about before the fire. 

Questioned upon the rack, the reputed sorceress confessed 
that she had intended the death of the king, which would 
have followed in a few days. As a punishment the sor- 
ceress was burned with her wax image, whereupon the king 

The wax of young bees was considered particularly pow- 
erful in magic, and we are told of a sorceress who possessed 
an image of such virgin wax in which all the members were 
distorted excepting one rib — she believing that according 
to Genesis ii. 21, 22, "And the Lord caused a deep sleep 
to fall upon Adam, and he slept ; and he took one of his 
ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof: and the rib, which 
the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, 
and brought her unto the man," she too could from this 
rib create more images potent for harm. 

334 ^^^ Honey-Makers 

The sorceress' own life was bound up in this image, and 
when it was melted before a slow fire she disappeared at 
the same time. 

The sacred candles were stolen from the churches for 
the unholy purposes of magic, as were also the consecrated 
wafers and the bones of the dead, both of which were con- 
ceived to possess exceptional power in witchcraft. 

Against these sacrilegious misdemeanors the church in- 
terfered with all its power, and Pope Gregory IX. issued in 
1233 a special bull wherein every one implicated in these 
magic arts was threatened with eternal damnation, and 
others did the same. 

The " Ackersegen " or blessing of the field seems to be 
the result of a mixture of pagan and mediaeval superstitions. 
We know the Greeks and Latins made offerings to the 
deities of the fields and orchards and that upon these oc- 
casions a trench was often dug and into it poured meal, 
milk, honey and wine or mead. 

Even during the middle ages a similar custom was fol- 
lowed in some places when at the ploughing of the fields 
sacrificial rites were observed in which milk, meal and 
honey were offered. 

There was later a special ceremony devised for those 
fields supposed to have been blighted by magic. 

From the four corners of the field sods must be cut ; oil, 
honey, the milk of all cattle, the boughs of all trees, par- 
ticularly of oaks and beeches, all herbs excepting burdocks, 
must be laid upon the sods and sprinkled with holy water. 
The sods must then be taken to the church, the green side 
turned towards the altar, and four masses read over them. 
They must then be returned to the field before sunset, a 
blessing pronounced over them, unknown seeds bought of a 
mendicant placed upon the plough, another blessing pro- 
nounced and the first furrow ploughed. All kinds of flour 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 335 

kneaded into a loaf with milk must then be laid in the fur- 
row and another blessing pronounced. 

At one end of the furrow the ploughman must find a 
jar of honey, at the other end a jar of milk. 

In a Wallachian legend the bee appears as a messenger 
of God, sent by him, when he was in the act of making the 
world, to the Devil to ask whether it would be better to 
create only one, or more, suns. 

While the Devil was thinking it over, the bee placed itself 
upon his head and so became possessed of his secret 

The Devil concluded that if more than one sun were 
created the earth would be so hot that hell beneath would 
not be needed, or that night would be turned into day, 
whence the works of darkness would no longer be possible 
in this glare of hght. He declared therefore for the crea- 
tion of but one sun. 

When the bee flew to take the answer back to God the 
Devil discovered that it had been sitting upon his head and 
had read his thoughts. 

Then in anger raised he liis scourge against the forth- 
flying bee, and struck it on the body. Through this blow 
the bee received its cut-in-two form, and the black rings 
on the hinder part of the body. Before this, so the legend 
runs, the bee, as the servant of God, had been as white as 
snow. The bee is yet called by the Wallachians ''albina." 

The following is a Servian legend. 

A boy once met the Devil and after being teased and 
cheated by him a number of times the Devil proposed that 
they should tell hes for a wager. 

The Devil being the oldest took the lead and told a 
number of preposterous stories. This did not trouble the 
boy, who found himself prepared with quite as remarkable 
answers. He told how in his youth he had examined his 

336 The Honey-Makers 

father's bees every morning ; as he once passed the hives 
of bees in review he found the best and most beautiful 
queen-bee missing. So he started out to find traces of 
the lost one. He rode over the wide sea on a bridge, and 
on the other side he saw the queen-bee yoked to a plough, 
and a man ploughing a piece of land with her. 

It is noteworthy in connection with this tale that the 
metamorphosis of a bee into an ox that draws the plough, 
and thus brings fruitfulness to the earth, was a favorite idea 
among the ancients. 

It was a common superstition among the northern and 
western peoples that a child upon whom a bee setded in 
sleep was a child of good fortune — a lucky child. 

In Finnish mythology there is an invocation to the bee, 
imploring it to fly far away over the moon, over the sun, 
near to the axis of the constellation of The Wagon, into the 
dwelling of the creator, God, and bring back upon its wings 
and in its mouth health and honey to the good, and wounds 
of fire and iron to the wicked. 

There is a Circassian legend to the effect that divine 
intervention was once used to preserve the race of bees 
from destruction. Merime, the mother of the gods, could 
not protect the bees when Indras, the god of thunder, was 
angry with them, and they all perished but one which the 
goddess concealed beneath her inmost garment, and from 
which proceeded anew the race of bees. 

When the Circassians celebrated their principal festival 
and brought off'erings — at which no female creature was 
allowed to look — they repeated a prayer in which bees, 
honey, and wax are mentioned, from which a few sentences 
are here given : — 

" To him who has brought an off"ering may God give 
prosperity and health ; to the children that come into the 
world may he give money, bread, bees, cattle in abundance ; 

In Christian and Mediaeval Times 337 

may he cause the bees greatly to swarm and make wax in 
abundance. When spring approaches, O God ! let out 
the three kinds of cattle upon the three ways, protect them 
from deep mud, bears, wolves, and thieves. Like as the 
hop is firm and full, even so bless us with- good fortune 
and knowledge ! Even as the light shines brightly, so let 
us live ! Even as wax in the hive increases, so grant us 
good fortune ! " 

The Poles, Silesians, and Russians generally, had a bee- 
god called Babilos who was credited with being the in- 
ventor of the art of bee-keeping, and the image of this god 
was often placed near the hives. We hear also of a Lithu- 
anian goddess of honey called Austheia, and of another 
honored in the Caucasus as Meritta, while the Russian 
peasants consider it sacrilegious to kill a bee. 

In the Russian folk-tales the bee appears as a good fairy 
to assist the deserving in their need, and there is a story of 
a bee that once changed itself, to comfort an old father, into 
the form of his only son, who was wandering in strange lands, 
and whom the father wished to see once more before dying. 

There is another tale of a father who wished to choose 
the best one from among his twelve sons. He loved them 
all and feared doing injustice to any, whereupon a bee flew 
in and settled upon the head of the youngest as a visible 
sign that tliis was the most excellent. 

A bee also undertook the grave responsibility of deciding 
for a young hero, who wished to choose from twelve maidens 
the most beautiful for his bride. 

It is said the bear, as the 'Mioney-finder " and '' honey- 
eater," still enjoys high respect among the Russian peasants. 
According to an old Russian custom a vessel containing 
honey must be placed beside the bier upon which lies a 
corpse — reminding us of a similar custom among the 
ancient Greeks. 

338 The Honey-Makers 

In northern mythology as among other nations, honey 
gave the gift of poetry. 

The way it acquired this power is related at length in the 
" Younger Edda," where we learn there once lived a very 
wise man, Knaser, so wise that no one could ask him a 
question he could not answer. 

He travelled much about the world, teaching men wis- 
dom, until he came to the house of the dwarfs Fjalar and 
Galar. They called him aside, saying they wished to 
speak with him alone, then slew him and let his blood run 
into two jars called Son and Bodu, and into a kettle called 
Odrarer. They mixed honey with the blood, and thus was 
produced such mead that whoever drinks from it becomes 
a skald and sage. 

How this mead was taken from the dwarfs and finally 
made accessible to man one can discover by reading the 
" Edda." 

Lorenzo de' Medici did not receive his gift of poetry 
from the mead of Valhalla nor from Hteral honey, though 
he needed the bees and their hive to explain the phenome- 
non, as Henry Morley in his " English Writers " informs us: 

" Lorenzo [de' Medici] himself, in a love sonnet, tells 
how the gods made him poetical. 

" The rays of love from the eyes of his lady penetrating 
through his eyes to the shadow of his heart, as rays of the 
sun enter the dark bee-hive by its fissure, caused the hive 
to awake, and fly hither and thither in the forest sipping 
from the flowers." 



The bees must still be told of a death in the family in 
many parts of Europe and in certain out-of-the-way places 
in our own country, where in earlier days the custom was 
general. It afforded material for one of Whittier's most 
beautiful poems, " Telling the Bees." 

" Before them, under the garden wall, 
Forward and back, 
Went, drearily singing, the chore-girl small, 
Draping each hive with a shred of black. 

" Trembling, I listened; the summer sun 
Had the chill of snow ; 
For I knew she was telling the bees of one 
Gone on the journey we all must go ! " 

Tlie song the chore-girl small was singing is this : — 

" Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence ! 
Mistress Mary is dead and gone ! " 

This recalls a similar prayer heard in Germany, and 
which may thus be translated : — 

" Little bee, our lord is dead ; 
Leave me not in my distress." 

In England the custom of telling the bees is still general 
in the rural districts. 

Not long since, a woman in Suffolk, when asked if she 
had told the bees of the death of a relative, immediately 

340 The Honey-Makers 

replied, " Oh ! yes, when my aunt died, I told every skep ^ 
myself, and put them into mourning," and in his book, 
" The Honey Bee," Harris says : — 

" I have since ascertained the existence of the same 
superstition in Cornwall, Devonshire, Gloucestershire 
(where I have seen black crape put round the hive or on 
a small stick at its side), and Yorkshire." 

In the " Bee Journal," under the head of " Norfolk Bee- 
Superstition " one writes : — 

" A neighbor of mine had bought a hive of bees at an 
auction of the goods of a farmer, who had recently died. 
The bees seemed very sickly, and not likely to thrive ; 
when my neighbor's servant bethought him they had never 
been put in mourning for their late master. On this he got 
a piece of crape and tied it to a stick, which he fastened to 
a hive. After this the bees recovered ; and when I saw 
them they were in a very flourishing state — a result which 
was unhesitatingly attributed to their having been put into 

An Oxfordshire woman, according to the " Bee Journal," 
a few years since declared that her grandfather had seven- 
teen hives of bees at the time of his death, and because 
no one told them of his demise every bee died. 

In a " Book about Bees " by Jenyns we find this interest- 
ing anecdote. 

" The Rev. George Raynor, the well-known bee-keeper, 
has given me the following story : — 

" An * old lady ' in this parish, whose husband died a short 
time ago, was ' about to put her bees in mourning ' when 
I dissuaded her, showing her how foolish was the idea that 
the bee could understand anything about the death. 
During the following winter the bees died. 

" I was never forgiven, although I offered more bees to 
1 Hive. 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 341 

the manes of the departed husband. I was greeted 
with — 

" ' It 's all very good o' you, sir, but they ain't Hke t'other 
poor dears as is dead and gone ! ' " 

In Yorkshire the bees are invited to the funeral. 

In the Carolina mountains of the United States the 
people still "tell the bees " of a death in the family; as 
one of the mountaineers recendy described it, " You knock 
on each hive, so, and say, ' Lucy is dead.' " 

In some parts of France the hives are put into mourning 
when one of the family dies, and the inhabitants of the 
Pyrenees have a custom of burying an old garment 
belonging to the deceased under the bench where the bee- 
hives stand, and they neither sell, give away nor exchange 
the bees of the dead. 

There is a wide-spread superstition that it is unlucky 
to buy the bees of a dead man, while in some parts of 
England, Germany, France, and the United States it is con- 
sidered necessary to move the hives upon the death of the 
owner, either to change their place or to turn them around, 
a custom said also to be practised in China. 

The faith with which this belief was held in England is 
illustrated in the following, quoted by Harris from a book 
written in 1621 : — 

" Who would believe without superstition (if experience 
did not make it credible) that most commonly all the bees 
die in their hives if the master or mistress of the house 
chance to die, except the hives be presently removed into 
some other place? And yet I know this hath happened 
to folk no way stained with superstition." 

Sometimes this disturbing of the bees is received ill- 
naturedly and causes trouble at the house of mourning. 
Jean Paul recounts a mishap of this nature at the funeral 
of a man of high rank, where the obsequies were being 

342 The Honey-Makers 

conducted with the greatest state and ceremony when forth 
rushed the outraged inhabitants of the disturbed hives and 
fell upon the assembly with such fury that all took to 
flight. They stood not upon the order of their going — 
but went. 

In Westphaha there is a pretty custom of teUing the 
bees the happy events of the family as well as the sad ones, 
and the newly-married couple going to their new home 
must introduce themselves to the bees, or else their mar- 
ried life will be unfortunate. 

It seems this custom is rather wide-spread, and the 
following introduction of the young couple to the bees has 
a very merry swing. 

" Imen in, imen ut, 
hir ist de junge brut. 
Imen um, imen an, 
hir ist de junge man. 
Imekes, verlatt se nitt 
wann se nu mal kinner kritt ! " 

In the folk-songs of the Poles is a ditty said to be 
sung at Polish peasant weddings while mead is drunk 
around the circle : — 

Industrious as the life of the bee 
Is the life on the farm, 
And sweet as honey- 
Is the married state. 

In some northern countries honey was used in extrava- 
gant profusion at weddings, as Bergius in his book upon 
sweetmeats relates of the daughter of a certain Swedish 
person of note who in 1500 a. d. used half a ton of honey 
at her wedding. And in 1567 at Sigrid Sture's wedding 
453 cans of honey were used. 

In Brittany the bee hives are decorated with pieces of 
scarlet cloth at a wedding, the people believing that unless 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 343 

the bees are allowed to partake in the rejoicings they will 
go away. 

For bees to leave their home without good cause por- 
tends the near death of their owner. It is also considered 
unlucky for bees to swarm upon dead wood, as for instance 
a post, a dead tree, or the dead branch of a living tree. 
In some places this means that the bees themselves will 
perish, in others that a death will occur in the family within 
a year. 

It is a common superstition that ill-fortune attends the 
killing of bees. 

It is a widespread superstition that bees must not be 
bought with money but must be exchanged for some product 
of nature, though in some parts of England bees may be 
bought with gold. Hence in many places the usual price 
of a swarm of bees is half- a- sovereign, to be paid in gold. 

One starting bee-keeping in Germany should begin with 
the lucky number of three hives, and he prospers best 
who buys the first swarm, has the second given to him, 
and finds the third. But in England it is unlucky to buy 
the first stock, which should always be given, the custom 
being to offer something, as a small pig, in return. 

He who steals bees steals from himself good luck, as 
stolen bees never prosper. 

In Bavaria and other places bees must not be bought 
or transported on Friday, which is considered an unlucky 

Moreover, bees will not prosper in a quarrelsome family, 
and particularly if there are dissensions between husband 
and wife. 

Nor do they thrive in time of war. 

There is in Germany a superstition that the bees will 
die if a nail from a coffin is laid in their hive, or driven 
into it. 

344 ^^^ Honey-Makers 

It is also unlucky to dream of bees, as he who does so 
will have a quarrel. 

Sometimes to dream of bees, however, signifies a fire, 
and if bees settle on a house it is a sign that it will soon 
burn down. 

There is, as we remember, a similar Greek superstition, 
and among the ancient Hindus it was considered a matter 
for long-continued sacrifice if a swarm of bees settled on 
a house. 

Numerous appeals or prayers, as in the middle ages, are 
still in use imploring the swarming bees not to fly away, 
or if they have flown to come back again and supply the 
usual stores of honey and wax. 

In Cornwall the people call " Browny, Browny," when 
their bees swarm, believing the goblin Browny will prevent 
the bees from leaving. 

In Monmouthshire, England, the peasantry are said to 
entertain so great a veneration for their bees that they go 
to the hives on Christmas eve at twelve o'clock in order 
to listen to their humming. The bees are believed to make 
a much more agreeable music then than at any other time, 
since they celebrate in the best way they can the morning 
of Christ's nativity. 

Sheep and bees were considered sure sources of wealth, 
hence, — 

" Who shall keep well sheep and been, 
Sleep or wake, their thrift comes in." 

Embalming the dead in honey seems still to be prac- 
tised, for the Burmese preserve bodies temporarily in honey 
during the rainy season when it is difficult to get the fire 
necessary for cremation. 

The relation between bees and love in the modern world 
is, like the bees in the Hindu myths, connected with the 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 345 

moon, though it is probable the present " honeymoon " 
bears no relation to the Hindu satellite and its myths. 

The orbit of the modern honeymoon is by common con- 
sent agreed to be one of great and non-astronomical 
eccentricity, to which Hood thus does justice : — 

"The moon, the moon, so silver and cold, 
Her fickle temper has often been told — 

Now shady — now bright and sunny; 
But of all the lunar things that change, 
The one that shows most fickle and strange, 
And takes the most eccentric range, 

Is the moon — so called — of honey ! " 

Bees appear frequently in modern love-songs, and 
Chaucer in the " Miller's Tale," describes a lover's wooing 
during which 

" He syngeth brokkynge as a nightingale, 
He sente hir pyment,i meeth'-^ and spiced ale." 

In the same tale the enraptured swain exclaims, — 

" What do ye, hony comb, sweete Alisoun, 
My faire bryd, my sweete cynamome ? " 

While Spenser in the " Fairy Queen " gives us anything 
but a sunny picture of the condition induced by Kama and 

Cupid, — 

" True be it said, whatever man it said, 
That love with gall and honey doth abound ; 
But if the one be with the other weighed. 
For every dram of honey therein found 
A pound of gall doth over it redound." 

In a different vein Shakespeare in " Henry IV." makes 
Falstaff cry out to the Prince, — 

" And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench ? " 
1 Wine and honey. ^ Mead. 

346 The Honey-Makers 

To which the jovial Prince replies, — 

" As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle." 

In Tennyson's " Foresters " when Robin offers to caress 
her, Marian says, — 

" Quiet, good Robin, quiet ! 
You lovers are such clumsy summer-flies, 
For ever buzzing at your lady's face." 

To which Robin gallantly replies, — 

" Bees, rather, flying to the flowers for honey." 

Upon which, to her lover's displeasure, Marian sings, — 

" The bee buzz'd up in the heat. 
' I am fain for your honey, my svi^eet.' 
The flower said, ' Take it, my dear, 
For now is the spring of the year. 
So come, come ! ' 
' Hum ! ' 
And the bee buzz'd down from the heat. "* 

And the bee buzz'd up in the cold 
When the flower was wither'd and old. 
' Have you still any honey, my dear ? ' 
She said, ' It 's the fall of the year, 
But come, come ! ' 
' Hum ! ' 
And the bee buzz'd off in the cold." 

Jean Ingelow has given us a dainty picture of two 
lovers : — 

" An empty sky, a world of heather. 

Purple of foxgloves, yellow of broom ; 
We two among them, wading together, 
Shaking out honey, treading perfume." 

We remember Anacreon's pretty conceit about Love 
and the bee-sting, and we find Lessing in one of his poems 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 347 

modifying it somewhat : — As Love lay sleeping in the 
Golden Age upon a bright flower-field a bee lying in a 
rose leaf stung him. This modern Amor did not run 
crying to Venus but became wiser for what had happened. 
He lurked in roses and violets and when a maiden came to 
pick he flew out as a bee — and stung her ! 

" Luxury is an enticing pleasure, a bastard mirth, which 
hath honey in her mouth, gall in her heart and a sting in 
her tail," says Quarles, using an ancient form of thought 
with which we are already familiar and which seems as 
much a favorite with the modern as with the ancient 

Dr. Watts thus uses an equally well-known figure in one 
of his lyrics, — 

" The rills of pleasure never run sincere ; 
(Earth has no unpolluted spring,) 
From the curs'd soil some dang'rous taint they bear ; 
So roses grow on thorns, and honey wears a sting." 

It was Dr. Watts too who composed the most popular of 
all bee-songs, one with which every child is familiar. 

" How doth the little busy bee 
Improve each shining hour, 
And gather honey all the day 
From every opening flower ! " 

Naturally many of our modern poets agree with Horace 
and Martial in extolling solitude, accompanied by bees, as 
where Samuel Rogers says, — 

" Mine be a cot beside the hill ; 

A beehive's hum shall soothe my ear; 
A willowy brook that turns a mill. 
With many a fall, shall linger near." 

Keats in his sonnet ''O Solitude ! If I must with thee 
dwell," sings : — 

348 The Honey-Makers 

" Let me vigils keep 
'Mongst boughs pavilioned, where the deer's swift leap 
Startles the wild bee from the foxglove bell." 

The bee is as much at home in modern literature as in 
ancient, and it would be difficult to find a poet who has 
not given it place in his song. 

In " Paradise Lost " Milton finds room for it : — 

" Awake ! the morning shines, and the fresh field 
Calls us ; we lose the prime, to mark how spring 
Our tended plants, how blows the citron grove. 
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed, 
How nature paints her colors, how the bee 
Sits on the bloom, extracting liquid sweet." 

Modern poets, as we have already seen, do not scorn the 
conceits of the ancients, and Holmes in his song on Bryant's 
seventieth birthday gives a new dress to Martial's epigram 
of the bee entombed in amber. 

"In his own verse the poet still we find, 
In his own page his memory lives enshrined, 
As in their amber sweets the smother'd bees, — 
As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze, 
Lies self-embalmed amidst the mouldering trees." 

Tennyson in " Eleiinore " thus beautifully uses the poetical 
conception so common to the ancient writers, of favored 
ones being fed in infancy by the bees : — 

" Or the yellow-banded bees, 
Thro' half-open lattices 
Coming in the scented breeze. 
Fed thee, a child, lying alone, 
With whitest honey in fairy gardens cull'd — 
A glorious child, dreaming alone. 
In silk-soft folds, upon yielding down, 
With the hum of swarming bees 
Into dreamful slumber luU'd." 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 349 

But there is a pleasure in the bee for its own sake that is 
modern and that bursts forth as joyously as did the song of 
the bee, among the old Hindus. 

An English poet sings : — 

" The wild bee reels from bough to bough 
With his furry coat and his gauzy wing, 
Now in a lily cup, and now 
Setting a jacinth bell a-swing, 
In his wandering." 

And thus Emily Dickinson : — 

" His labor is a chant, 
His idleness a tune. 
Ah, for a bee's experience 
Of clovers and of noon ! " 

Nora Perry sings : — 

" So sweet, so sweet the roses in their blowing, 
So sweet the daffodils, so fair to see ; 
So blithe and gay the humming-bird a-going 
From fiower to flower, a-hunting with the bee." 

In his " Ode to Delia " Burns sings : — 

" The flower-enamoured busy bee 
The rosy banquet loves to sip." 

While in " Tam O'Shanter" Maggie the mare runs for 
her life, — 

" As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, 

When plundering birds assail their hyke." 

But it is in Burns' poem " Thou Fair Eliza " that one of the 
prettiest of modern bee-adorned stanzas is found. 

" Not the bee upon the blossom, 
In the pride o' sinny noon ; 
Not the little sporting fairy, 
All beneath the summer moon ; 

350 The Honey- Makers 

Not the minstrel, in the moment 

Fancy lightens in his e'e, 
Kens the pleasure, feels the rapture, 

That thy presence gives to me." 

Very naturally the superstitious belief in bees as augurs 
extended far and wide, and it has persisted even to modern 
times. When at a Polish election of kings a swarm of bees 
settled upon the banner of Woiwoden Wisniowicky this 
turned the election in his favor. 

On the other hand, the sudden settling of bees upon the 
weapons of Duke Leopold III. of Austria, on the day 
before the batUe of Sempach, was considered an evil omen. 

In Woodward and Burnett's " Heraldry " we read the 
following interesting account of the origin of the well-known 
" bees of Napoleon." 

" Bees are often used in armory as an emblem of industry 
and perseverance as well as in allusion to the name of the 

"The Emperor Napoleon replaced the proscribed fleur- 
de-lis by golden bees, which he used as decorations for his 
coronation robes, and also employed in the heraldic 
augmentations hereafter to be described. 

"The origin of the assumption of the bees by Napoleon 
as an imperial badge is curious. In the year 1653, there 
was discovered at Tournay a tomb supposed to be that of 
Childeric (died 4S0), father of Clovis. 

*' Among the precious articles enclosed therein, or found 
in proximity to it, were about three hundred small objects of 
gold and fine stones, which somewhat resembled in shape 
an insect, to which the name of ' bees ' was given. These 
and the other contents of the tomb were presented by the 
Archbishop of Mentz to Louis XIV., and were long pre- 
served in the Bibliotheque Royale at Paris. These so- 
called bees were stolen in 1832, and only two remain at the 
present day. 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 351 

" Among those who were present at the discovery was 
Jean Jacques Chifflet, at that time physician to the Arch- 
duke Leopold, Governor of the Netherlands. Chifflet was 
charged by the Archduke to write an account of the dis- 
covery, and in his opinion these golden insects had been em- 
ployed as the decorations of the royal mantle (Childeric's), 
which very possibly was the case. But Chifflet went further 
and declared that in these insects was to be found the 
origin of the fleur-de-lis. This statement occasioned a 
great literary controversy, and the assertion was very hotly 
contested by Tristan de St. Armand (Traite du Lis, 1656), 
and later by that celebrated antiquarian Montfaucon, iri his 
great work. 

" The Emperor Napoleon, whose ambition it was to pose 
in some sort as the successor of princes anterior to the line 
of Capet, assumed these bees as the badge of his new 
empire, and, as has been stated, caused them to be largely 
employed among its heraldic insignia." 

These bees appear upon Napoleon's coronation mantle 
and upon that of the Empress Josephine, as well as in 
tapestries and other decorations of the imperial palace. 

They appeared upon the imperial arms and the arms of 
those high in office, and replaced the lilies of France in the 
arms of Paris and other French cities. 

Later these bees were looked upon by some of 
Napoleon's followers as omens of evil. 

Bees appear on the coats of arms of many European 
families and " Beehives with bees flying around them occur 
in some very modern coats, and, though improperly, as 

A beehive stands over the entrance to Brigham Young's 
house, and the same symbol is to be seen everywhere 
throughout Salt Lake City, expressive of Mormon thrift and 

352 The Honey-Makers 

In India the bee is still an object of interest, and we are 
told that because Krishna changed an earthly maiden 
beloved by him into a certain plant (Ocymuni nigrum) 
and commanded that he should never be worshipped 
without the presence of this plant, the Indians to this 
day hold leaves of it in the hand when they remove the 
honey from the hives — believing the god Krishna to be 
present in the bees. 

Bees from very early times have enjoyed a reputation as 
weather prophets. And this is far better deserved than 
most of their attributes of divination, as it is evident to any 
one who watches them that they fly not far from home 
when a storm is brewing, even though to mortal senses there 
may be no sign of atmospheric disturbance. 

This was well known to the ancients and concerning it 
Aristotle says : — 

"Bees discover the approach of cold weather and of 
rain ; this is plain, for they will not leave the hive, but 
even if the day is fine, are occupied in the hive. By this 
the bee-keepers know that they expect severe weather." 

And Virgil in the " Fourth Georgic " : — 

" Nor do they remove to a great distance from their 
hive when rain impends, or trust the sky when east winds 
approach ; but in safety supply themselves with water all 
around under the walls of their city, and attempt but short 

It is a common superstition dating from the time of 
Pliny, or probably long before, that bees cannot endure an 
echo and will not remain in a country where echoes are 

They are not, however, considered averse to all noises, 
as we know. 

The ringing of church bells is believed to give pleasure 
to the bees, wherefore one can, by pounding on metal 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 353 

instruments, restrain them when swarming, and induce them 
to settle instead of flying away. 

The behef that bees can be stopped by noise was com- 
mon in the time of Aristotle and is thus referred to by him : 

" Bees also appear to have pleasure in noises, so that 
they say that they collect them into their hives by striking 
earthen vessels and making noises." 

Observe the caution with which Aristotle makes the 
statement and he immediately adds; — 

" But it is very doubtful whether they hear or not, and if 
they hear whether they collect together from pleasure or 
from fear." 

Evidently the mental characteristics of the scientist have 
in no wise changed since the time of Aristotle — only time 
has revealed somewhat more accurate methods for finding 

The real origin of the wide-spread belief that a loud noise 
will prevent the bees from leaving is somewhat obscure. 
It is not improbable, however, that the custom of making a 
noise arose for very utilitarian reasons, with which the 
weapon-dance of the Curetes and the church bells alike had 
nothing to do, these being later fictions to account for a 
primitive custom. 

A swarm of bees is easily lost, as it flies swiftly, and at 
the departure of one the ringing of bells or otherwise 
making a din would put everybody on the guard to track 
it. Also, if the neighbors were notified of the leaving of 
a swarm they would know to whom it belonged if it came 
to them and would have an opportunity of restoring it. 

Whoever loses a swarm of bees is at liberty to follow 
them wherever they go, and " by one of the laws of Alfred 
the Great all keepers were bound to ring a bell when their 
bees were swarming, to give notice to their neighbors of the 


354 The Honey-Makers 

Mirrors and bright tin pans are in some places used to 
reflect the sun upon the swarm, which, it is beheved, will 
cause it to setde instead of flying away. 

Although the bee has a reputation for exceeding great vir- 
tue and is said to loathe dishonesty in man to such a de- 
gree that it will pine and die under the care of a dishonest 
keeper, the facts do not wholly warrant the fable, for it is 
well known that during a period of scarcity it will steal 
the stores of other bees if it can get a chance. In fact the 
robbing propensity of bees is one of the difficulties of bee- 
keeping. There used to be a way of controlling this, how- 
ever, and that was by the magic use of the gimlet. If one 
turned this instrument forward in the wood or straw of 
which the hive was made, at the same time naming the 
three highest names, he could drive his own bees to suc- 
cessful robbery ; if he turned it backwards he could thus 
prevent stranger bees of thieving intent from entering his 

Another preventive to robbery is to fasten the windpipe 
of a marten or polecat at the entrance hole to the hive, in 
such a way that the bees must pass it in going in and out. 
It has the power of checking the course of the robber bees. 

The smoke of wormwood grown in a graveyard is also 
believed to be an efficient deterrent against robbers. 

Thieving bees are not the only enemies to the hives, 
however. Toads are fond of a meal of bees, and in 
Pomerania a so-called toad-stone is placed under the hive 
to banish these nuisances ; while as a charm against 
honey-stealing ants, fish spawn in some places is put near 
the entrance hole. 

A truly beautiful relation exists between the German 
bee-keeper and his litde subjects which is well expressed 
by his name of" bee-father." 

A very pleasing custom still lingers in parts of Germany, 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 355 

practised at the time the honeycombs are taken from the 

Then the bee-father sends honey as a gift to his neigh- 
bor, for the bees have collected their sweets in part from 
the neighbor's flowers. If this poetic act of justice is 
omitted the bee-father is punished by a poor honey-harvest 
the next season. 

Sick bees and empty combs are also the punishment of 
that unworthy bee-father who refuses honey to the sick, 
while he who withholds honey from children sins against 
Mary the mother, and Joseph the foster-father of the child 

The idea of purity in connection with the bee extended 
to its keepers, and Moffett only expresses the opinions of 
the ancients when he says, — 

" Furthermore, to keep these good pay-masters, and 
to make them in love with you, you must remove from 
their Hives mouthes, unlucky, mischievous, and deceit- 
ful people, and idle persons that have nothing to do, 
causing them to stand further off." All unclean people, 
odors and objects were considered obnoxious to the bees, 
and the superstition still lingers in some places, so that 
when the bee-father is about to remove the combs he 
must first clean and purify his own body. He must for 
several days refrain from strong-smelling food, as salt meat, 
sea fish, onions and garlic. He must use no salves and 
drink no intoxicant. 

It is also unwise to wear a red garment when going to the 
bees, as it is said they will think you a " murtherer or man 
of blood," and in some places it is said that bees will sting 
any red-haired person who comes near the hives. 

No doubt the bees learn to know — and may it not be 
to feel a regard for — their human companions. The close 
relation between the master and his bees has not escaped 

356 The Honey-Makers 

attention, and many stories are told of the influence of the 
one over the others. Chief among these perhaps is that 
of the bees of Saint Medard that, we remember, compelled 
the thief who had stolen them to restore them and make 

Certain bee-keepers are known to have possessed a re- 
markable influence over their bees. 

Menzel tells of a singular exhibition of affection on the 
part of bees, said to have occurred at Nantes in 1777. ^ 
woman who had been faithful to her bees fell ill, whereupon 
her little friends came in swarms from their distant hives 
and flew into her house and her room. 

A better accredited account is that of the English bee- 
keeper Wildman, who himself explains the secret. 

"When under a strong impression of fear," Wildman 
says of the bees, " they are rendered subservient to our 
wills, to such a degree as to remain long attached to any 
place they afterwards settle upon, and will become so mild 
and tractable as to bear any handling which does not hurt 
them, without the least show of resentment. Long ex- 
perience has taught me, that as soon as I turn up a 
hive, and give some taps on the sides and bottom, 
the queen immediately appears. Being accustomed to 
see her, I readily perceive her at the first glance ; and 
long practice has enabled me to seize her instantly, with a 
tenderness that does not in the least endanger her person. 
Being possessed of her, I can, without exciting any resent- 
ment, slip her into my other hand, and, returning the hive 
to its place, hold her till the bees, missing her, are all on 
the wing, and in the utmost confusion." 

When in this state he could make them alight wherever 
he pleased ; for on whatever spot he placed the queen, the 
moment a few of them discovered her the information was 
communicated to the rest, who in a few minutes were all 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 357 

collected round her. In this way he would sometimes 
cause them to settle on his head, or to hang clustered from 
his chin. Again, he would transfer them to his hand, or to 
any other part of his body, or would cause them to settle 
on a table, window, etc. Prior to making his secret gen- 
erally known, he deceived his spectators by using words of 
command ; but the only magic he employed was to sum- 
mon into activity the strong attachment of the bees to 
their queen. 

Cautioning his readers as to attempting what he himself 
accomplished only by long experience and great dexterity, 
Wildnian concludes his account with a parody of the reply 
of C. Furius Cresinus, a liberated Roman slave, who, being 
accused of witchcraft in consequence of his raising more 
abundant crops than his neighbors, and therefore cited 
before a Roman tribunal, produced his strong implements 
of husbandry, his well-fed oxen, and a hale young woman, 
his daughter, and pointing to them, said, " These, Romans ! 
are my instruments of witchcraft ; but I cannot show 
you my toil and anxious cares." " So," says Wildman, 
"may I say, These, Britons ! are my instruments of witch- 
craft ; but I cannot show you my hours of attention to this 
subject, my anxiety and care for these useful insects ; nor 
can I communicate to you my experience, acquired during 
a course of years." 

We hear of naked priests in India who live in the forests 
alone with the bees and are continually swarmed over by 

There is a story of a negro whom the bees accompanied 
wherever he went, and who, like Wildman, could wear 
them as a cap upon his head ; and of a Pole whose every 
motion the bees obeyed. 

In short, similar stories are innumerable, and doubtless 
it is true that the operator has possession of the queen-bee ; 

358 The Honey- Makers 

yet there are some among us who could not with impunity 
handle a swarm of bees even under these circumstances. 

There is no doubt that bees are friendly to some and 
unfriendly to others, the exact cause for their likes and 
dislikes being as inscrutable perhaps as the affinities 
and repulsions which people oftentimes feel for each 

By some it is beheved that the possession of certain 
herbs will attract bees to an individual. The belief in the 
influence of these herbs upon bees is widespread. 

There is a European plant, variously called Melia, 
Melissa, Melittis, Melianthus and Honey-blossom, though 
probably it is Melissa Officinalis or our common Bee Balm, 
which was formerly beheved to have the power of drawing 
bees to the hive where it was placed. 

It is noteworthy that in Germany the plant believed to 
entice bees to the hive is also called Mutterkraut (mother 
herb) and is considered healing to mothers. 

There is another curiously suggestive superstition con- 
nected with this plant, which is that he who carries it with 
him can lead cattle wherever he wishes. 

The nymphs, as we know, and sometimes the muses, 
had their origin in bees, — whence in latter times came 
the legend that good and industrious women also had 
their origin in bees, and certain names of women are still 
in vogue whose original significance may have been derived 
from the legend. 

Melissa, as a name for women, no doubt had originally 
the meaning belonging to -the word in Greek mythology, 
though few of the MeUssas of to-day suspect the significant 
and comphmentary character of their name as used by the 
Greeks of antiquity. 

In French we have Melisse and M^lite, modifications 
of Melissa. 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 359 

Deborah, too, as we remember, in Hebrew means bee, 
or "she that speaketh" — not as a nymph this time, but 
as a prophetess. We still retain the name of Deborah, 
but it is no longer significant of prophecy. 

Although the prophets of our day are popularly repre- 
sented as having " a bee in the bonnet " this by no means 
implies that we consider them possessed of the divine 
frenzy of the ancient seers ! 

As in the Eastern world so in the Western, we find 
many cities showing by their names the importance of 
their bees, as Immendorf, Immenstadt, Immenhausen, 
Immenstaed, Immenstedt, Immendingen, Immnitz, etc., 
from Ijume a bee, and in Texas there is a town called 

The College of Bees at Oxford University, according 
to Butler's " Feminin Monarchi," was " so called by the 
founder in the statutes," and he adds, " whereupon Eras- 
mus to the first president inscribeth his epistle thus : — 

"Erasm. Rot. Joanni Claymundo. Collegii Apum Pr^e- 

Butler also tells the following interesting story in connec- 
tion with this college. 

''When, in a. d. 1520, Lodovicus Vives was sent by 
Cardinal Wolsey to Oxford, there to be the public professor 
of Rhetoric, being placed in the College of Bees, he was 
welcomed thither by a swarm of bees : which sweetest 
creatures, to signify the incomparable sweetness of his 
eloquence, settled themselves over his head, under the 
leads of his study ; where they have continued above one 
hundred years. 

" The truth of this story appears as well by the general 
voice of the house, which have received it by tradition ; 
as by the special testimony of a worthy Antiquari of our 
time : who afifirms that he hath often heard his master, D. 

360 The Honey-Makers 

Benefield (one of the public professors of Divinity) who 
then had L. Vives' chamber and study ; and D. Cole 
(then President, and in Q. Mari's days scholar of this 
house) to say as much, calling the bees Vives' Bees. 

"In the year 1630, the leads over Vives' study, being de- 
cayed, were taken up and new cast ; by which occasion 
the stall was taken, and with it an incredible mass of honey. 
But the bees, as presaging their intended and imminent 
destruction, (whereas they were never known to have 
swarmed before) did that spring (to preserve their famous 
kind), send down a fair swarm into the president's garden. 
The which, in the year 1633, yielded two swarms; one 
whereof pitched in the garden for the president ; the other 
they sent up as a new colony into their old habitation, 
there to continue the memory of this mellifluous Doctor, 
as the University styled him in a letter to the Cardinal." 

Quite carried away by these honeyed happenings, Butler 
thus concludes : — 

" How sweetly did all things then concord ; when in 
this neat museum, newly consecrated to the muses, the 
muses' sweetest favorite was thus honoured by the muses' 

" The Bee " is a common name for periodicals, as, for 
instance, the " Omaha Bee," a daily newspaper, and the 
" Tryon Bee," a semi-weekly sheet. But the most interesting 
of these is undoubtedly " The Bee " of Oliver Goldsmith, a 
weekly paper conducted and wholly written by its gifted 
editor. The first number came into circulation October 
6th, 1759 ; but a single bee cannot do the work of a hive, 
so it is not surprising that Goldsmith's " Bee " ended its 
existence November 24th, 1759, having, like the true 
honey-bee in a season of abundant honey-flow, worked itself 
to death in about six weeks. 

A very interesting Order of the Bee was that founded 

Curious Customs and Beliefs 361 

in 1703 by Louise, wife of Louis Augustus de Bourbon, 
the gold medal of which bore upon one side the likeness 
of the princess, upon the other a bee, with the significant 
inscription, " Je suis petite, mais mes piqures sont pro- 



From the time of Pliny in the second century of our era 
to that of Swammerdan) in the middle of the seventeenth 
century nothing of importance was written upon the natural 
history of bees. Then come Reaumur, Linnaeus, De Geer, 
Bonnet, and at the close of the eighteenth century Latreille 
and Lamarck, and a little later Cuvier. These with a few 
others did the important original work necessary to the 
elucidation of the world of nature and incidentally of bees. 
But there were popular writers and practical bee-keepers 
who from the seventeenth century to the present time have 
added their contributions, more or less valuable, to the 
literature of natural science. 

In the time of Bonnet lived a unique figure, the Gene- 
vese, Francis Huber, who devoted much of his time to 
the study of the bee and made several discoveries, so 
remarkable that they exposed him to the ridicule of many 
in his own time, but which since have been proven and 
accepted by the scientific world. 

Ruber's story is the most romantic in the annals of the 
naturalists, for, born of good and talented parents and 
pursuing too arduously the delightful paths of knowledge 
open to him, at an early age he became blind. Since his 
interest was mainly in the world of nature this would have 
seemed to many an insurmountable affliction. Not so to 
Huber. Possessed of a particularly genial and childlike 
nature, he was able not only to overcome the drawbacks inci- 

Bee-Culture at Present 363 

dent to his infirmity but perhaps even to turn them to 
his advantage. Deprived of his physical eyes, he focused 
the vision of his mind upon the problems he set himself 
to solve, and to a remarkable extent solved them. He was 
fortunate in two particulars. 

The girl he loved did not desert him in his time of need. 
Against the wishes of her friends and relatives she per- 
sisted in becoming the wife of the blind man, and was his 
sympathetic helper and consoler through a long and happy 

Besides his wife he had a faithful servant, Francis Burnens 
by name, who with incalculable patience and thoroughness 
conducted the experiments and made the observations 
necessary in the investigations of his blind master, and to 
a great extent was responsible for his brilliant successes. 

Huber was one of the first to use successfully glass hives 
for the purpose of observing the actions of the bees, and 
he invented one that preserved the normal condition of 
the swarm almost perfectly. 

As long ago as the time of Pliny attempts were made 
to watch the bees through transparent walls, and he tells us 
that many persons had hives made of " lapis specularis " — 
probably a sort of talc — for this purpose, and elsewhere he 
speaks of " a man of consular dignity near Rome, whose 
hives were made of transparent lantern horn." 

Although many interesting discoveries about bees had 
been made by the beginning of the nineteenth century, it 
is interesting to note that the views of Aristotle and Pliny 
continued to be held by the people even as late as the 
middle of the century. The modern scientists were not 
able to displace the theories of their brilliant predecessors 
in the minds of the people until their work was corrobo- 
rated by overwhelming evidence from many sources, and 
gradually became the property of all classes. 

364 The Honey-Makers 

There is at the present time a long list of books about 
bees suited to the average reader, many of which are 

No great general progress was made in practical bee- 
keeping until within about fifty years. In that time the 
methods of handling bees and honey have taken immense 
strides, so that bee-keeping to-day is more scientifically 
practised than ever before, and probably there is more 
honey harvested to-day than ever before. 

It is only in Europe and North America, however, or in 
countries colonized by Europeans or Americans, that the 
bee is scientifically cultivated. The whole world owns the 
bee, but the whole world has not yet learned how to profit 
to the utmost by its possession. Wherever flowers bloom 
bees hum. From the frozen regions to the equator they are 
the companions of the flowers. All civilized peoples keep 
them and have done so from remote ages, and many semi- 
civilized races hive and care for them. 

The genus Apis supplies the most valuable honey-bees 
to the world, and to this genus belong the domesticated 
bees of Europe, Asia, Egypt and North America. 

Apis Mellifica is the species best known to us, and vari- 
eties of this bee have now been introduced into nearly 
all parts of the world. 

In India, however, where the bees are as highly valued 
by the people to-day as when Kalidasa gave them such 
frequent place in his love songs, Apis Mellifica is not indig- 
enous. Indeed, India has four or more species of honey- 
making bees, though but one of these, the Apis Indica, is 
kept in hives. The others live in rocks or trees and store 
quantities of " wild honey," which the natives gather. 

The most famous of the wild honey-bees of India is the 
large Apis Dorsata, found also in the adjoining countries. 

It is said to be a fierce wild bee, and builds an enor- 

Bee-Culture at Present 365 

mous single comb, sometimes five or six feet long and three 
or four feet wide, suspending it in the tops of the highest 
trees, or beneath overhanging rocks, or in ruins or other 
inaccessible places. Sometimes, under favorable conditions, 
it builds a double comb, and as many as fifteen or twenty 
swarms may occupy one favorite tree. 

Honey in India is in many places under government 
control, only certain persons or '^ honey-men" being 
granted a license to gather it. 

The honey and wax of the Apis Dorsata are eagerly 
sought in spite of the difficulty and danger of securing 
them. Into the forest the honey-men steal twice a year 
at the darkest part of the night and climb the high trees 
by means of bamboo ladders, the branches lopped off to 
serve as steps, or they are let down by ropes over the high 
cliffs. One comb is said to yield on an average from eight 
to fifteen " beer-bottles " of reddish-brown honey, and from 
one to two-and-a-half pounds of wax, and this is con- 
sidered a plentiful harvest, well worth the cost of gathering. 

Hooker in his " Himala3'an Journals " speaks of the 
honey-seekers in one of the valleys he visited : — 

" The slope on either side of the valley is very steep ; 
that on the north in particular appearing too precipitous 
for any road, and being only frequented by honey-seekers, 
who scale the rocks by cane ladders, and thus reach the 
pendulous bees'-nests, which are so large as in some in- 
stances to be conspicuous features at the distance of a 
mile. This pursuit appeared extremely perilous, the long 
thread-like canes in many places affording the only foot- 
ing, over many yards of cliff: the procuring of this honey, 
however, is the only means by which many of the idle poor 
raise the rent which they must pay to the Rajah." 

The honey of the Apis Dorsata is said not to be of excel- 
lent quality, being thin and liable to ferment and mixed 

.66 The Honey-Makers 

with all sorts of impurities, a condition which is partly or 
perhaps wholly the result of carelessness in handling. It is 
consumed mostly by the natives. The wax, however, is 
excellent and valuable, and is produced by the bees with 
great prodigality. 

The size of the honeycomb cells corresponds to the 
size of the bee, which is much larger than our honey-bee. 

These strange, wild, tree and rock building bees of India 
have a peculiar interest for us, as an attempt has already 
been made to bring them to this country, and the time 
may come when from the trees of our Southern States will 
depend these large combs. 

Mr. Frank Benton, in 1880-8 1, made a trip to India on 
purpose to get swarms of the big bees. Although they 
never have been tamed by the natives of India, the enter- 
prising American succeeded in inducing them to live in hives 
and found them no more difficult to handle, by using proper 
precautions, than other bees. 

The climate defeated the enterprise, however, and a long 
illness on the part of Mr, Benton, while trying to transport 
the bees, resulted in the loss of them. 

The presence of Apis Dorsata is desired by the bee- 
keepers of this country because of its large size and conse- 
quently long tongue. Undoubtedly it could collect the 
honey from the deep flowers of red clover, which are, as a 
rule, inaccessible to our honey-bee. At present a great 
part of the delicious honey in these flowers goes to waste 
for want of gatherers, only the bumble-bees being able to 
profit to any extent by the luscious store. 

It is not improbable, however, that the red clover may 
be replaced before long by the new clovers which have 
been developed by careful experiments and which com- 
bine the excellent qualities of both the red and the white 
clover as forage-plants. Experiments in producing new 

Bee-Culture at Present 367 

forms of clover may well result in depriving the bumble- 
bee of his monopoly by giving us clovers with tubes short 
enough for our ordinary hive-bee. 

This, however, need not discourage the introduction of 
Apis Dorsata, as certainly there will be plenty of honey for all 
gatherers. It is a question, though, whether the Apis Dor- 
sata, being a tropical bee, could endure the northern climate 
without a great deal of care ; it might take to the woods in 
the South, however, and build its enormous combs of valu- 
able wax, which would be worth seeing, to say the least. 

Besides possessing the largest of honey-makers, India 
also possesses one of the smallest, — the little Apis Florea, of 
which " the workers, more slender than house flies, though 
longer bodied, are blue-black in color, with the anterior 
third of the abdomen bright orange." 

This little bee builds an exceedingly delicate comb no 
larger than a man's hand and attaches it to thorn bushes or 
the twigs of small trees. It holds only about a teacupful of 
honey and this is not held in very high esteem excepting 
for medicinal purposes in some sections. 

The common hive-bee of India is Apis Indica, a pretty 
little yellow creature, smaller than our hive-bees and pro- 
ducing in comparison but a meagre am'ount of honey, 
though this is usually of good flavor. It is found wild in 
hollow trees and rock crevices, and is easily hived. 

Honey-gathering in the jungles of southern India results 
in the accumulation of quite a large amount of honey 
and wax, but bee-culture is not practised south of the 
Punjab excepting in some of the hill villages of Kanara, 
where the people desiring honey place an earthen pot with 
a smaU hole in the side, mouth down, in a hole in the 
ground, and trust that it will become the selected quarters 
of bees ! 

Strange to say it often does. Bee-culture is quite exten- 

368 The Honey-Makers 

sively carried on in certain valleys in the hills of the Punjab. 
In some of these places the hives are of mud, in the form 
of cylinders, larger at one end. The bee-keeper makes a 
hole in the wall of his hut and into it inserts the larger end 
of his mud hive. He then closes the large opening with a 
sort of door made of grass and mud and closes the other 
end also, leaving but a small entrance hole. He is now 
ready for business and by smearing this curious hive with 
honey and other aromatic substances he hopes to call to it 
a swarm of bees. If they do not come he is obliged to go 
to the forest and capture them. When he wishes to take 
out the honey he retires to his hut, opens the large end of 
the hive, drives the bees by means of smoke out through 
the opposite entrance and helps himself. 

In the Simla hills, however, bee-culture has assumed 
large proportions. It is carried on in most of the valleys, 
where special houses are built for the bees, sometimes three 
stories high. Recesses are built into the walls of these 
bee-houses, each closed on the outside by a wooden panel 
in which a hole for the entrance of the bees is made. A 
man is usually in charge of each bee-house, whose business 
it is to prevent excessive swarming, keep the apiary well 
stocked with early swarms and guard it against attacks of 
bears, martins, hornets, wasps, and caterpillars. 

The bees are invited to these places by smearing the 
inside of the recesses with honey and aromatic herbs, and 
where they fail to appear the bee-keeper is obliged to go to 
their nests in the forest and use more urgent measures with 

In some places there are nooks reserved for the bees in 
the lower parts of the people's houses, and in others bees 
are kept in the upper verandas of the houses in hives 
formed of short lengths of hollow trunks of trees. 

The honey of India varies at different seasons of the 

Bee-Culture at Present 369 

year, being watery and yellow early in the season and of 
good quality in the fall. 

It is said that the Punjab-Himalaya honey is principally 
used in the manufacture of an alcoholic liquor. This the 
natives prepare by mixing equal quantities of honey and 
water together and leaving it to stand in closed earthen 
vessels for a year. 

This Indian mead is very potent, one cupful being enough 
to produce intoxication. 

Honey here as elsewhere forms the basis of several 
popular remedies and has long held an important place in 
the Hindu Materia Medica. 

Egypt still values the honey-bee, and though the ancient 
dynasties have passed away, the descendants of the bees of 
Menes survive and continue to gather nectar from the 
flowery banks of the sacred river. 

Concerning the bee in Egypt a modern writer has a 
word to say. 

"The Egyptians exhibit great skill in their manner of 
cultivating the bee, as the flowers and the harvest are much 
earlier in Upper Egypt than in Lower, and the inhabitants 
profit by this circumstance in regard to their bees. 

''They collect the hives of different villages on large 
barks, and every proprietor attaches a particular mark to his 
hives ; when the boat is loaded, the conductors descend 
the river slowly, stopping at all the places where they can 
find pasturage for the bees. After having thus spent three 
months on the Nile, the hives are returned to the proprie- 
tor, and after deducting a small sum due to the boat- 
men for having conducted his hives from one end of Egypt 
to the other, he finds himself on a sudden enriched 
with a quantity of honey and wax, which is immediately 
sent to the market. This species of industry procures 
for the Egyptians an abundance of wax and honey, and 


370 The Honey-Makers 

enables them to export a considerable quantity to foreign 

Niebuhr reports having once seen a flotilla of four thou- 
sand hives on the Nile between Cairo and Damietta^ mak- 
ing their way from Upper Egypt to the Delta. 

Throughout Africa honey-bees are common. " On the 
West coast of the river Gambia," we are told, " the natives 
formerly paid much attention to bees. They had hives 
made of reeds and sedges, shaped like baskets and hung 
on the outer boughs of trees." In some places they were 
hung so thickly that at a short distance they looked like 
large fruit on the branches. 

Mr, Cummings in his " Adventures in South Africa " tells 
us that the wild bees there are the same as the domestic 
bees of England. But this is doubtless because the 
European bee has been extensively introduced. 

Beeswax forms a considerable part of the cargoes of 
ships trading to the Gold and Ivory coasts and districts of 
Sierra Leone, and the western shores of Africa. 

The European honey-bee was introduced by the Dutch 
settlers into southern Africa, where it quickly made itself 
at home, escaping to the woods and colonizing large areas, 
while in his " Origin of Species " Darwin says : — 

" In Australia the imported hive-bee is rapidly extermi- 
nating the small, stingless native bee." 

In New Zealand, the West Indies and the United States 
it has also become a permanent and flourishing resident. 

In South America, in Cayenne and Surinam, there are 
reported little black bees with white wings. '' They build 
their nest in the shape of a bagpipe, upon the tops of the 
highest trees. The honey is very sweet and agreeable, 
thin, and of a reddish color. From the latter the Indians 
extract a spirituous liquor of which they are passionately 
fond ; of the wax they make candles. " 

Bee-Culture at Present 371 

From Spix's " Travels in Brazil " we get the following : 

" Extraordinarily rich is the Sertao in numerous kinds of 
bees, which nest partly in the trees, partly in the earth. 
Their products in honey and wax are so important that 
many Sertanejos support themselves by the business of 
gathering the same." 

A very interesting account of the bees of South America 
comes from Bates' " Naturalist on the River Amazons," 
this gifted naturahst and delightful writer having spent 
many years in South America collecting and observing 
the various forms of life there. 

" The Meliponae in tropical America," he tells us, "take 
the place of the true Apides, to which the European hive- 
bees belong, and which are here unknown ; they are gener- 
ally much smaller insects than the hive-bees, and have no 
sting. The M. Fasciculata is about a third shorter than the 
Apis MeUifica ; its colonies are composed of an immense 
number of individuals. The workers are generally seen 
collecting pollen in the same way as other bees, but great 
numbers are employed gathering clay. The rapidity and 
precision of their movements whilst thus engaged are won- 
derful. They first scrape the clay with their mandibles ; 
the small portions gathered are then cleared by the anterior 
paws and passed to the second pair of feet, which in their 
turn convey them to the large foliated expansions of the 
hind shanks, which are adapted normally in bees, as every 
one knows, for the collection of pollen. The middle feet 
pat the pellets of mortar on the hind legs to keep them in 
a compact shape as the particles are successively added. 

" The little hodsmen soon have as much as they can carry, 
and they then fly off. I was for some time puzzled to 
know what the bees did with the clay ; but I had afterwards 
plenty of opportunity for ascertaining. They construct 
their combs in any suitable crevice in trunks of trees or 

372 The Honey-Makers 

perpendicular banks, and the day is required to build up a 
wall so as to close the gap, with the exception of a small 
orifice for their own entrance and exit. Most kinds of 
Meliponge are in this way masons as well as workers in 
wax and pollen gatherers. One little species, not more 
than two lines long, builds a neat tubular gallery of clay, 
kneaded with some viscid substance, outside the entrance 
to its hive, besides blocking up the crevice in the tree 
within which it is situated. The mouth of the tube is 
trumpet-shaped, and at the entrance a number of the 
pigmy bees are always stationed, apparently acting as 

" It is remarkable that none of the American bees have 
attained that high degree of architectural skill in the con- 
struction of their comb which is shown by the European 
hive-bee. The wax cells of the Meliponae are generally 
oblong, showing only an approximation to the hexagonal 
shape in places where several of them are built in contact. 

" A hive of the Meliponse Fasciculate, which I saw opened, 
contained about two quarts of pleasantly-tasted liquid honey. 
The bees, as already remarked, have no sting, but they bite 
furiously when their colonies are disturbed. I found forty- 
five species of these bees in different parts of the country; 
the largest was half an inch in length ; the smallest were 
extremely minute, some kinds being not more than one- 
twelfth of an inch in size. These tiny fellows are often 
very troublesome in the woods, on account of their famil- 
iarity ; they settle on one's face and hands, and, in crawling 
about, get into the eyes and mouth, or up the nostrils.", 

Another genus of stingless, honey-making bees — the 
Trigona — is found in tropical America as well as in the 
tropics of Asia and Africa. There are about a hundred 
species in these two genera, and their combs are very dif- 
ferent from those of the hive-bee, containing as they do 

Bee-Culture at Present 373 

waxen reservoirs, sometimes as large as a pigeon's egg. in 
which the honey is stored. These cells are placed close 
together and are often black or deep violet in color. The 
people of Mexico and some parts of South America call 
these stingless bees " angelitos, " or " little angels." The 
bees are sometimes hived in hollow logs and suspended in 
the verandas. 

Sometimes the hives are made of earthenware and are 
very ornamental, the hole through which the bees pass in 
and out being the mouth of a man or a monster whose head 
is moulded in the clay of which the hive is made. The 
bottles or cups containing honey are hung around the sides 
of the hive, but the cells in which the young are raised 
resemble the honey-comb of our hive-bees. 

All of Europe is rich in honey-bees, and in most Euro- 
pean countries bee-culture is practised. 

In Russia the peasants extensively use honey instead of 
sugar, and the churches make a heavy demand for wax 
tapers. In former times Poland was particularly famous 
for its bee-culture, which is still practised to some extent. 
It is said that in the province of Yekarterinoslaw there are 
nearly four hives to every inhabitant. 

In former times the island of Corsica paid Rome a large 
annual tribute of wax. The honey of Corsica was bitter, 
and thus not esteemed, and the wax is said to have been 
black, but of good quality, and readily whitened by 

East Friesland, a province of Holland, at the present 
day has two thousand hives per square mile, while France 
and Spain teem with bees, and produce much honey. 

In Germany from olden time the neighborhood of Nurem- 
berg has been particularly celebrated. The bee-masters 
there formed a guild of their own, had special privileges, 
and stood next to the Emperor, Nuremberg being called 

374 ^^^ Honey-Makers 

the bee-hive of the holy Roman Empire ; and the Nurem- 
berg honey-cakes are still celebrated. 

From the middle ages to near the present time the 
German bee-masters led in the honey and wax producing 
industry, but lately they have had to give place to the New 
World, with its virgin bee-pastures and its great activity. 

The United States now stands at the head, the most 
famous honey being that of California. It is to the modern 
world what the honey of Hybla and Hymettus was to 
the ancient ; and it is interesting to learn that a large part 
of it is made from the white sage, — a plant similar to the 
Attic and Sicilian thyme, and which gives to the honey a 
similar flavor. 

Honey is still gathered by the bees of Attica and of 
Sicily, and the honey of Hymettus is eaten in Athens to- 
day, there being as many as one hive to each person in the 
province of Attica. The flowers and the bees are about 
Hymettus as of old, and the honey retains its ancient fame, 
though it scarcely deserves to, according to the testimony 
of Mahaffy, who, in his " Rambles and Studies in Greece," 
says, taking a view from the Acropolis, and noticing the 
sterility of the soil : — 

"Then Thucydides' words come back to us, when he 
says Attica was ' undisturbed on account of the lightness of 
its soil,' as early invaders rather looked out for richer pas- 
tures. This reflection, too, of Thucydides applies equally 
to the mountains of Attica, round Athens, which are not 
covered with rich grass and dense shrubs, like Helicon, like 
Parnassus, like the hills of Arcadia, but seem so bare that 
we wonder where the bees of Hymettus can find food for 
their famous honey. It is only when the traveller ascends 
the rocky slopes of the mountain that he finds its rugged 
surface carpeted with quantities of little wild flowers, too 
insignificant to give the slightest color to the mountain, but 

Bee-Culture at Present 375 

sufficient for the bees, which are still making their honey 
as of old. This honey of Hymettus, which was our daily 
food at Athens, is now not very remarkable either for 
color or flavor. It is very dark, and not by any means 
so good as the honey produced in other parts of Greece, — 
not to say on the heather hills of Scotland and Ireland^ I 
tasted honey at Thebes and at Corinth, which was much 
better, especially that of Corinth, made in the hills towards 
Cleonas, where the whole country is scented with thyme, 
and where thousands of bees are buzzing eagerly through 
the summer air." 

The poet's favored palate, however, is still able to detect 
the flavor of antiquity in the Attic honey, and we are grate- 
ful to Byron for singing thus of famed Hymettus, in "Childe 
Harold " : — 

"Still his honeyed wealth Hymettus yields; 
There the blithe bee his fragrant fortress builds ; 
The free-born wanderer of the mountain air." 

The Abbe Barthelemy, too, does not share Mahaffy's 
dark view of the subject, for he tells us, speaking of bees : 

*' These insects are extremely partial to Mount Hymettus, 
which they have filled with their colonies, and which is 
covered almost everywhere with wild thyme and other 
odoriferous plants ; but it is chiefly from the excellent thyme 
which the Mount produces that they extract those precious 
sweets, with which they compose a honey in high estimation 
throughout Greece." 

The New World, covered with bloom, its wild flowers 
untouched by the plough, and free from the depredations 
of the insects that are a concomitant of civilization, afforded 
an ideal home for the bees, and it is a pleasure to turn from 
time-devastated Hymettus to the fresh bee-pastures of our 
own Cahfornia, and listen to the delightful bee-talk of John 

3/6 The Honey-Makers 

Muir, whose book, " The Mountains of CaUfornia," none 
can afford to miss reading. 

He says : — 

" When Cahfornia was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden 
throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the 
way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean. 

"Wherever a bee might fly within the bounds of this 
virgin wilderness, — through the redwood forests, along the 
banks of the rivers, along the bluffs and headlands fronting 
the sea, over valley and plain, park and grove, and deep, 
leafy glen, or far up the piny slopes of the mountains, 
throughout every belt and section of climate up to the tim- 
ber line, — bee flowers bloomed in lavish abundance. Here 
they grew more or less apart in special sheets and patches 
of no great size, there in broad, flowering folds hundreds of 
miles in length, — zones of poUeny forests, zones of flowery 
chaparral, stream-tangles of rubus and wild rose, sheets of 
golden compositae, beds of violets, beds of mint, beds of 
bryanthus and clover, and so on, certain species blooming 
somewhere all the year round." 

Again, he is speaking of the bottom-lands along the 
rivers : — 

" When I first saw this central garden, the most exten- 
sive and regular of all the bee-pastures of the State, it 
seemed all one sheet of plant gold, hazy and vanishing in 
the distance, distinct as a new map along the foot-hills at 
my feet. 

'' The air was sweet with fragrance, the larks sang their 
blessed songs, rising on the wing as I advanced, then sink- 
ing out of sight in the polleny sod, while myriads of wild 
bees stirred the lower air with their monotonous hum, — 
monotonous, yet forever fresh and sweet as every-day 

The hive-bee, not indigenous in this country, was brought 

Bee-Culture at Present i^j^j 

by settlers from Europe to America sometime in the seven- 
teenth century, it is supposed, though the exact date is not 
known. It is stated by some that the first were taken, 
certainly with great propriety, by the Spaniards to Florida, 
the land of flowers. 

They are there to-day, some in large and scientifically con- 
ducted apiaries, some in old-fashioned box hives in remote 
hammocks, adding to the meagre stores of their native 
owners, who live in a cabin near them. 

In the " Bee Journal " for July, 1886, we read : — 

" When John Eliot translated the Scriptures into the 
language of the aborigines of North America, no words 
were found expressive of the terms 'wax' and ' honey.' " 

The first form of Apis Mellifica brought to this country 
was the common " brown " or German bee, and it is this 
variety which is still commonly kept in remote country 
places, and this which at first filled the land with innumer- 
able swarms of " wild bees." 

Until recently it was the only hive-bee we had, and it 
is of this bee and the white clover, which also came to 
North America with the European settler, that Hiawatha 
sings, describing the coming of the conqueror : — 

" Wheresoe'er they move, before them 
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo, 
Swarms the bee, the honey-maker ; 
Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them 
Springs a flower unknown among us, 
Springs the White Man's Foot .in blossom." 

The Indians are said to have foretold the approach of 
the white man by the swarms of bees that shortly preceded 
him^ — a form of divination whose prophecies have always 
come true, and had the Red Man recognized in them an 
emblem of misfortune to his race, as some of the ancients 
did; that prophecy would also have come true. 

37^ The Honey-Makers 

Thomas Jefferson thus informs us : — 

"The bees have generally extended themselves into 
the country, a little in advance of the white settlers. The 
Indians therefore call them the white man's fly." 

And Washington Irving adds : — 

" It is surprising in what countless swarms the bees have 
overspread the far West within but a moderate number of 
years. The Indians consider them the harbingers of the 
white man, as the buffalo is of the red man, and say that 
in proportion as the bee advances, the Indian and the 
buffalo retire. We are always accustomed to associate the 
hum of the bee-hive with the farmhouse and the flower- 
garden, and to consider those industrious little animals as 
connected with the busy haunts of man ; and I am told 
that the wild bee is seldom to be met with at any great 
distance from the frontier. 

" They have been the heralds of civilization, steadily 
preceding it as it advances from the Atlantic borders ; 
and some of the ancient settlers of the West pretend to 
give the very year when the honey-bee first crossed the 

'' At present it swarms in myriads in the noble groves 
and forests that skirt and intersect the prairies, and extend 
along the alluvial bottoms of the rivers. It seems to me as 
if these beautiful regions answer literally to the description 
of the land of promise, — ' a land flowing with milk and 
honey ; ' for the rich pasturage of the prairies is calculated 
to sustain herds of cattle as countless as the sands upon the 
seashore, while flowers with which they are enamelled ren- 
der them a very paradise for the nectar-seeking bee." 

While the date of the first arrival of the honey-bee in 
the United States is doubtful, the date of its introduction 
into Cahfornia is better known. 

It did not find its way by slow degrees as the line of 

Bee-Culture at Present 379 

white settlements gradually extended across the continent, 
but was introduced there with great painstaking. 

There are many species of wild bees that eat honey but 
do not store it up, and it is to these that Muir refers in the 
following statement concerning the coming of the hive- 
bees to California : — 

" How long the various species of wild bees have lived 
in this honey-garden, nobody knows; probably since the 
main body of the present flora gained possession of the 
land, toward the close of the glacial period. The first 
brown honey-bees brought to California are said to have 
arrived in San Francisco in March, 1853. A bee-keeper 
by the name of Shelton purchased a lot, consisting of twelve 
swarms, from some one at Aspinwall, who had brought them 
from New York. When landed at San Francisco, all the 
hives contained live bees, but they finally dwindled to one 
hive, which was taken to San Jose. The little immigrants 
flourished and multiphed in the bountiful pastures of the 
Santa Clara VaUey, sending off three swarms the first season. 

" The owner was killed shortly afterward, and in settling 
up his estate, two of the swarms were sold at auction for 
$105 and ^iio respectively. Other importations were 
made from time to time, by way of the isthmus, and, 
though great pains were taken to insure success, about one- 
half usually died on the way. Four swarms were brought 
safely across the plains in 1859, the hives being placed in 
the rear end of a wagon, which was stopped in the after- 
noon to allow the bees to fly and feed in the floweriest 
places that were within reach until dark, when the hives 
were closed." 

Thus modestly began what has since grown to be one of 
the most important bee industries in the world. 

Thousands of acres of bee-pasture have been despoiled 
of their flowers by agriculturists and shepherds, the latter 

380 The Honey-Makers 

sweeping over the country with what Muir calls their 
" hoofed locusts " and laying waste the beautiful valleys as 
if a fire had devastated thenn. And yet there is abundant 
pasture for almost innumerable swarms of bees. 

The bees of California, like those of' India, and in fact 
of all warm climates, sometimes hang their combs in the 
open air, and Muir says : — 

" Out in the broad, swampy delta of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin rivers, the little wanderers have been known 
to build their combs in a bunch of rushes, or stiff, wiry 
grass, only slightly protected from the weather, and in 
danger every spring of being carried away by floods. They 
have the advantage, however, of a vast extent of fresh pas- 
ture, accessible only to themselves." 

Sometimes the bees of California hang their combs in 
the branches of the trees, and in Ireland the bees sometimes 
build in trees or bushes, the combs weighing the twigs of 
the bushes to the ground ; and the present writer has seen 
combs built in the open air under the eaves of a barn in 
Rhode Island, where the weather is certainly too severe to 
allow of wintering out of doors. These combs, however, 
appeared to be an overflow, so to speak, from the well- 
filled space between the roof and sides of the barn, where 
a large quantity of honey must have been stored away. 

Bees sometimes select strange quarters for their hives, it 
being recorded that in a French fort on the African coast 
in 1702, an empty powder cask was taken possession of 
and filled with honey by a swarm of bees, while Muir say3 
that a friend of his, while out hunting on the San Joaquin, 
sat down to rest upon an old coon trap he found, but which 
proved to be occupied by a swarm of bees and to contain 
more than two hundred pounds of honey. 

For several years a swarm of bees lived in the steeple of 
a church in a New Hampshire village. Finally, a large 

Bee-Culture at Present 381 

quantity of honey was removed, and since it belonged to 
the church, it was given to the poor and the sick of the 
village, and a honey festival was held to which all were in- 
vited to come and eat. 

In a contemporary newspaper we learn that the '' old 
Hawes house," at Yarmouth, Mass., which had sheltered 
many generations of Cape Cod people, was finally to go 
the way of houses and be torn down. The workmen found, 
however, that the old walls were not tenantless, but evidently 
had sheltered many generations of Cape Cod bees, which 
bitterly resented the destructive intentions of the invaders, 
pouring forth in such immense numbers and betraying such 
a passion for fighting as compelled the workmen to retreat. 
It is said one whole side of the building between the walls 
was solidly packed with honey, and the work of demolition 
came to a standstill until cold weather should conquer the 
valiant defenders of the Hawes' lares and penates, when it 
was believed hundreds of pounds of honey would be taken 

This story is doubly discounted by one found in the Swiss 
Alpine folk tales. There were in the golden age brooks 
and seas fiilled with milk, and once a shepherd capsized in 
his boat and was drowned in one of them ; his long-sought 
body, when finally discovered and moved, brought to light 
the foaming cream as though it were being churned, and he 
was buried in a cavern which the bees had built full of 
honey-combs as large as city gates. 

These are the largest honey-combs yet recorded, as far 
as the present writer knows, though Pliny describes some 
seen in Germany that had attained the creditable length of 
eight feet, and which on the convex side were black. 

Hollow trees are the favorite hiving places of Apis 
MeUifica ; and notwithstanding the long domestication of the 
bees, they still retain their wild instincts to such an extent 

382 The Honey-Makers 

that they usually prefer to take to the woods instead of 
proceeding to the comfortable hives provided for them, 
unless man interferes and compels them to stay where he 
wants them. Occasionally a swarm is very obstinate, how- 
ever, and as often as it is hived will swarm out until it suc- 
ceeds in making good its escape. 

"Bells' ding-dong 
And choral song 
Deter the bee 
From mdustry ; 
But hoot of owl 
And ' wolf's long howl ' 
Incite to moil 
And steady toil," 

runs an old German rhyme, which is not devoid of truth. 

The inhabitants of the southern United States originally 
made their hives of sections of hollow trees, the sweet gum 
being the tree preferred, and for this reason the hives were 
called "bee gums," — ■ a name that still lingers, although 
the hollow tree is less frequently used than formerly. 

In the mountains of the Carolinas, however, veritable 
"gums" may still be seen, and even manufactured hives 
are called "gums." It is only fair to add that one may 
find the latest styles of hives, with " all the modern improve- 
ments, " including an Italian queen, in unexpected corners 
of these mountains, where there is abundant bee-pasture 
eight or nine months in the year, and where of course 
there are innumerable "bee-trees" in the forests, the bees 
still preferring a hollow tree of their own choosing to the 
"gums" of the mountaineers. 

Muir tells us that the honey-bee is now found wild 
throughout the Sierra, swarms having escaped from their 
owners in the lowlands and taken possession of hollow trees 
even higher than eight thousand feet above sea-level. 

Bee-Culture at Present 383 

One cannot wonder that the honey-bees have occupied 
the Sierra after reading Muir's beautiful tribute to Mount 
Shasta : — 

" Of all the upper flower fields of the Sierra, Shasta is the 
most honeyful, and may yet surpass in fame the celebrated 
honey hills of Hybla and heathy Hymettus. Regarding 
this noble mountain from a bee point of view, encircled by 
its many climates, and sweeping aloft from the torrid plain 
into the frosty azure, we find the first five thousand feet 
from the summit generally snow-clad, and therefore about as 
honeyless as the sea. The base of this arctic region is 
girdled by a belt of crumbling lava measuring about one thou- 
sand feet in vertical breadth, and is mostly free from snow in 
summer. Beautiful lichens enliven the faces of the cliffs 
with their bright colors, and in some of the warmer nooks 
there are a few tufts of Alpine daisies, wall-flowers, and 
pentstemons ; but, notwithstanding these bloom freely in 
the late summer, the zone as a whole is almost as honeyless 
as the icy summit, and its lower edge may be taken as the 
honey line. Immediately below this comes the forest zone, 
covered with a rich growth of conifers, chiefly Silver Firs, 
rich in pollen and honey-dew, and diversified with count- 
less garden openings, many of them less than a hundred 
yards across. Next, in orderly succession, comes the great 
bee zone. Its area far surpasses that of the icy summit 
and both the other zones combined, for it goes sweeping 
majestically around the entire mountain, with a breadth 
of six or seven miles and a circumference of nearly a 
hundred miles." 

Bravo ! bravo ! noble Shasta, Hybla and Hymettus were 
mere hillocks compared to thee. But they will live on, 
saved from oblivion by the glory of ancient Greece, a more 
lasting promise of immortahty than thy broad flowery 

384 The Honey-Makers 

It is in southern California, however, that bee-culture 
has received most attention. 

From one hive taken to Los Angeles County in 1854 the 
industry grew to between fifteen thousand and twenty thou- 
sand hives in 1876. 

All over the United States bee-culture has received a 
wonderful impetus which within fifty years has given it 
a place in the sum of the nation's wealth. 

The following statement is made by A. J. Cook, Pro- 
fessor of Entomology in the Michigan State Agricultural 
College, and author of a book on bees : — 

■ " An excellent authority places the number of colonies 
of bees in the United States, in 188 1, at 3,000,000, and 
the honey production for that year at more than 200,000,000 
pounds. The production for that year was not up to the 
average, and yet the cash value of the year's honey crops 
exceeded ^30,000,000." 

Mr. Frank Benton, in charge of the apiarian work of the 
U. S. Department of Agriculture, in 1895, P^'^^ the estimate 
at ^20,000,000 for the annual value of apiarian products. 

From the Year Book of the U. S. Department of Agri- 
culture we learn that in 1894 there was exported from the 
United States honey to the value of ^127,282, considerably 
more than half of which went to Great Britain and 
Ireland. There was also exported in that year $118,093 
worth of wax. 

It is said that in 1890 bee-keeping gave employment in 
the United States to three hundred thousand persons, and 
there are a number of large factories where nothing is 
manufactured but bee-keepers' supplies. 

The amount of honey marketed each year varies accord- 
ing to the weather as much as the grain or fruit crop, — 
even more. One year of favorable conditions will bring 
a tremendous honey flow, when bees thrive apace and 

Bee-Culture at Present 385 

store phenomenal quantities of sweets. Anotlier year or 
succession of years the wild-flower crop will not prosper, 
and then, indeed, the bees undergo great hardships, and 
pine and die in large numbers. The wild plants suffer 
even more from adverse weather than do the cultivated 
ones, and a season of drought will often extinguish hun- 
dreds of acres of bloom. Muir tells us : — 

" Bees suffer sadly from famine during the dry years 
which occasionally occur in the southern and middle 
portions of the State." He says further, describing the 
severe drought of 1877: — 

" But the fate of the bees that year seemed tlie saddest 
of all. In different parts of Los Angeles and San Diego 
counties, from one-half to three-fourths of them died of 
sheer starvation. Not less than eighteen thousand colonies 
perished in these two counties alone, while in adjacent 
counties the death rate was hardly less. 

" Even the colonies nearest to the mountains suffered this 
year, for the smaller vegetation on the foot hills was affected 
by the drought almost as severely as that of the valleys 
and plains, and even the hardy, deep-rooted chaparral, the 
surest dependence of the bees, bloomed sparingly, while 
much of it was beyond reach. Every swarm could have 
been saved, however, by promptly supplying them with 
food when their own stores began to fail, and before they 
became enfeebled and discouraged ; or by cutting roads 
back into the mountains and taking them into the heart 
of the flowery chaparral." 

This method of transporting bees to flowery regions was 
practised in early times, and is still carried on in many 

Pliny says : — 

" There is a village, called Hostilia, on the banks of the 
river Padus : the inhabitants of it, when food fails the bees 


386 The Honey-Makers 

in their vicinity, place the hives in boats and convey them 
some five miles up the river in the night. In the morn- 
ing the bees go forth to feed and then return to the 
boats, their locality being changed from day to day, 
until at last, as the boats sink deeper and deeper in the 
water, it is ascertained that the hives are full, upon which 
they are taken home and the honey is withdrawn." 

This method of supplying the bees with nectar is still 
employed on the river Po, the present name of the ancient 
Padus. The people mark a water line about the boat at 
starting and to it attach a scale by which they can tell how 
deep the boat sinks, and so judge when the hives are full and 
the time has come for returning home. 

Columella tells us that the Greeks, too, took their bees in 
search of honey, wandering from Achaia as far as Attica for 
the purpose. 

Bees were also conveyed from Euboea and the Cyclad 
Islands to Syrus, and to Hybla from other parts of Sicily. 

Huish says : — 

" It is the custom of the modern Greeks who inhabit the 
coast of Asia Minor, towards the islands of the Archipelago, 
to transport their hives by sea in order to procure an abund- 
ance of food for their bees." 

Urquhart, in his " Spirit of the Orient," tells us that upon 
the shores of Thessaly the bees are carried about by boats, 
to gather honey wherever flowers are abundant. 

From Kohl's " Southern Russia " we learn that the Arme- 
nians on the steppes of the Black Sea wander about like 
nomads with their bee-hives, pitching their tents in flowery 
places and placing the hives in a long hue until the honey 
of that region has all been gathered, and that sometimes 
there will be as many as a thousand hives together. 

In Spain the bees are carried from place to place on the 
backs of mules, while in Palestine, where modern bee-keep- 

Bee-Culture at Present 387 

ing has been introduced — strange to say — from America, 
tlie transportation is yet more unique. Five brothers there 
owned 350 stocks of bees that yielded them 26,000 
pounds of honey during the season of 1885. "Some 
12,000 pounds of this were furnished in April by the orange 
groves at Jaffa, and the wild thyme on the hills about 
Bethlehem gave the remainder, during July. The trans- 
portation of the stocks is effected at night on the backs of 
camels, sixteen in a load. Attendants and camels rest 
during the day while the bees fly, and when night 
approaches ' they fold their tents like the Arabs and silently 
steal away.' What a sight to see more than twenty of 
these ships of the desert, with their Hving burdens, filing 
over the Judean hills ! Natives and foreigners in the Holy 
Land have made big eyes over the new business which has 
come from over the ocean — even from young America." 

One should think they might ! In Germany bees are 
taken to the blooming rape fields, and the people of La 
Beauce, France, take their hives every August in carts to a 
distance of about ten miles, where they find heath or buck- 
wheat in flower, the sainfoin and vetches of their own 
district yielding no further supplies. The people call this 
transporting of the bees " leading them to pasture." 

They travel by night at a slow pace over the easiest roads 
they can find, each cart containing thirty or forty hives. 

They remain about two months in a place of pasturage 
in little villages containing sometimes as many as three 
thousand hives. 

Sometimes the hives are moved several times in a 
season, going from one place to another, where certain 
flowers bloom abundantly at different seasons. 

In Scotland the bees are carried in carts to the Highlands, 
to gather honey from the heather when the nectar of the 
Lowlands has been exhausted, 

388 The Honey-Makers 

According to Burroughs, " Bees will go three or four 
miles in quest of honey, but it is a great advantage to move 
the hive near the good pasturage, as has been the custom 
from the earliest times in the Old AVorld. Some enter- 
prising person, taking a hint perhaps from the ancient 
Egyptians, who had floating apiaries on the Nile, has 
tried the experiment of floating several hundred colonies 
north on the Mississippi, starting from New Orleans and 
following the opening season up, thus realizing a sort of 
perpetual May or June, the chief attraction being the 
blossoms of the river willow, which yield honey of rare 
excellence. Some of the bees were no doubt left behind, 
but the amount of virgin honey secured must have been 
very great. In September they should have begun the 
return trip, following the retreating summer south." 

To-day the bee-keepers of California follow the flowers up 
the mountain sides or over the plains, a bee-keeper 
sometimes transporting his hives a hundred miles in a 
season. When sage is in bloom the provident bee-keeper 
takes his charges to the chaparral, and when the great 
bean fields are blooming along the coast the bee- man 
appears with his hives, that the bees may store him a few 
tons of honey, which will vie in value wiih the returns the 
owners of the gardens get from the crops they raise, and 
for which they in part have to thank the bees, because 
of their valuable work in fertilization. 

The year i860 was a memorable one for the hive-bees 
of the United States, for there came the first consignment 
of their formidable rival, the Itahan honey-bee. So 
prolific and so industrious is this beautiful golden creature 
that it has gone far towards supplanting the brown bee in 
this country. 

It is not a case of extermination, however, as is that of 
the American Red Man, but of amalgamation. The new- 

Bee-Culture at Present 389 

comer has joined forces with the brown bee, and gradually, 
without bloodshed or cruelty of any sort, taken its place. 
So common has the Italian strain become that in many 
parts of the country the wild swarms in the bee-trees show 
the yellow body-bands of the Italians. 

Other bees, since the coming of the Itahans, have been 
brought to this country, as the Cyprian, Syrian, Carniolan, 
Palestine, or Holy-land, and Egyptian bees, each kind 
being distinguished by some peculiar excellence. 

Moreover, new varieties of bees have been developed 
by cultivation, and there now exist, by design or accident, 
swarms of hive-bees with so long tongues that they can 
obtain at least a portion of the red-clover nectar. 

No doubt the bumble-bees, which are our only native 
honey-makers, and whose structure is very similar to that 
of the hive-bees, although their habits are widely different, 
will shortly have to face the problem of how they are to 
protect tlieir long-time rights in red-clover heads from the 
arrogant new usurpers. 

Although bumble-bees often store up a honey that is 
relished by boys and bears, they have never been cultivated 
nor very highly esteemed by man. 

They build their nests underground or in inaccessible 
piles of rubbish, and some at least form no waxen cells, 
the honey when stored being placed in the cocoons deserted 
by the brood after it is matured. Naturally such honey is 
not very abundant nor very valuable ; and even where wax 
cells are built, the yield is far inferior in every way to the 
store of the hive-bee. 

Still, we could not spare the drowsy hum of the furry 
bumble-bees in our summer fields ; and let us not forget in 
our enthusiasm over the hive-bees, that the " burly, dozing 
Humble-bee " is the native honey-gatherer of North 
America, — that is, north of Mexico. 


The Honey-Makers 

His cheery hum was heard over the vast flowery plains 
of this favored land before the western continent was 
dreamed of by the white man, and in his underground 
nest was stored the only honey made in honey-flowing 
California for millenniums. 

" I will follow thee alone. 
Thou animated torrid zone ! 
Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer, 
Let me chase thy waving lines ; 
Keep me nearer, me thy hearer. 
Singing over shrubs and vines." 

The Humble Bee : Emerson. 



The fine translation of Kalidasa's Sakuntala is by Monier 
Williams, 1S56. 

Kalidasa's Birth of the War God is translated by Ralph T. H. 
Griftith, Principal of Benares College. 

Kalidasa's Hero and Nymph is from Wilson's Theatre of the 

The Toy Cart is also from the Theatre of the Hindus. 

Nagananda, A Buddhist Drama, is from the Theatre of the 

The quotations from the Vedas, the Sutras, Puranas, etc., are 
from the Sacred Books of the East, edited by Max Miiller. 

Chapter I. — See " The Chinese Sugar " — Jas. F. C. Hyde. Essay 
on Sugar — Niccol. Manual of Entomology — Dr. Hermann Bur- 
meister. Text-Book of Entomology — Packard. Manual for the 

Study of Insects — Comstock. 


"Honey before, a lance behind" — Menzel : Mytholo- 

gische Forschtingen I7 

The Feminin Monarch! — Chas. Butler. 1634 ... 40 
Charles Butler. The Feminin Monarchi, or Histori of 
Bees, 1634. The first edition appeared in 1609. The 
book was printed from a peculiar form of type devised 
to illustrate a method of phonetic spelling .... 40 
Ants, Bees, and Wasps — Sir John Lubbock .... 42 
"And he shall sing" — Theocritus — Z«;// J- /ra;/j-. . . 43 
Huber : Observations on Nat. Hist, of Bees .... 44 
Antennae as sense organs — see Cheshire : Bees and 
Bee-keeping \^ 

392 Appendix 


" Should some alien being " — Ibid. 46 

" Every apiarist " — A.J. Cook : The Bee Keeper's Guide 47 
The Theatre of Insects — Thomas Moffett. 1658 . . 47 

Most of the material in Moffett's book is taken from the 
writings of Conrad Gesner, a poor Swiss who at great pains 
collected all that was known of the history of animals and 
published five large volumes ; but before he completed his 
work upon insects, death claimed him, in 1558, and his work 
after passing into several hands was finally incorporated in 
Moffett's work nearly a century after Gesner had prepared it. 

Bee's madrigal — Butler: Fern. Man 48 

"Not only as bees" — Huber : Obs. on Nat. Hist, of 

Bees 48 

Bees smelling out nectar — A. I. Boot : A. B. C. of Bee- 
keeping 40 

Huber : Obs. on Nat. Hist, of Bees 50 

"Placed some honey, etc." — Sir John Lubbock : Ants, 

Bees., and Wasps z\ 

" Insects can smell" — Arist.:Hist.An.,iv.?, ... 51 

Pliny : Nat. Hist. chap, on Bees 51 

Huber : Obs. on Nat. Hist. Bees 53 

Thos. Moffett: Theatre of Insects 54 

Glands in head — Cheshire : Bees and Bee-keeping, p. 80 55 

Butler : Fern. Mon C7 

Cheshire : Bees and Bee-keeping 60 

Packard on respiration : " Guide to Study of Insects " . 61 

Girard — quoted by Langstroth 62 

The number of vibrations made by a bee's wino- in a 
minute have been reckoned by registering the wino-'s 
beats on a rapidly turning wheel covered with lamp- 
black, but this is not accurate, as the wing moved less 

quickly because of the obstruction 62 

Girard — quoted by Langstroth 64 

"When something seems" — 0^7// Klauss, quoted by 

Laiigstroth /- . 

Lorenzo Loi^raine Langstroth : Hive and Honey Bee — 

revised, etc., by Chas. Dadnet and Son. 1893 .. . 65 


endix 393 


" Happy old man" — Vi7'g. : Eel., i ()^ 

" Full merrily " — Troilus and Cressida, Act. iv. Sc. xi. 66 

Butler : Fern. Mon 73 

Ibid. 'J'] 

"Honey promotes" — John Burroughs: Locusts and 

Wild Honey 84 

Galen — quoted by Moffett in 7"^!?. of Insects .... 85 

" Honey wherein is found" — Moffett 85 

Vaux's method of purifying honey — told by Bevan in 

The Honey Bee 86 

Honey for preserving grafts, etc. — Ibid. 86 

iT^gwry F7., Pt. ii. Activ. Sc. ii 88 

King Lear, Act iv. Sc ii 89 

Cymbeline, Act iii. Sc. ii . 89' 

"A small corsair" — told by Langstroth 91 

Friedreich : Die Symbolik tmd Mythologie der Natur . 92 
" Lesser tells us " — Kirby and Spence : Introd. to 

Entomology 92 

" Pigneron relates" — Robert Hitish : Bees. London, 

1817 92 

" Olearius relates " — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. .... 92 

Kohl's Siidruszland — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. ... 93 

The Life and Travels of Mungo Park. Edinburgh, 1838. 93 

Cicero: The Tusculan Questions, bk. ii 100 

" They are wrathful " — Virg. : Geor.,iv 103 

Columella: Of Husbandry 104 

Thorley : The Feminine Monarchy 107 

Henry F., i. 2 114 

Gay's Rural sports, Canto L L. 82 115 

"All persons" — Arist. : Hist. An.,\. iZ 116 

Virgil : Geor., iv *• • 116 

Langstroth: The Honey Bee 118 

Huber : Obs. Nat. Hist. Bees 118 

Virgil : Gear., iv 119 

Fi-ank Benton : The Honey Bee. 1896 122 

Schirach : History of the Queen Bee ....... 123 

Seneca: Of Cleme?!cy, ch'^i:). x\x. ........ 126 

394 Appendix 


"A voice is heard" — Virg. : Gear., \v 126 

Texan Bee Journal. The Southland Queen. March, 

1898 128 

Arist.: Hist. An., ix. 11 129 

Pliny, ix. vii. 11 130 

The mating of the queen and drone of the hive-bee takes 
place high in the air and has seldom been seen by man. 
Consequently the ancients and even the moderns, up 
to recent times, were greatly puzzled on the subject of 
the generation of bees. Even Swammerdam believed 
the bees were fecundated by emanations from the 
drone. Huber explained the true method of mating, 
which has been repeatedly verified since, and which is 
very curious ; since it is necessary for the queen to 
become impregnated c|uickly and at the same time to 
receive a large amount of fertilizing material for future 
use, she returns to the hive bearing with her the or- 
gans of the male. It is this loss and the consequent 
mutilation that causes the death of the drone in a few 
hours. It seems to be analogous to the loss of the 
sting, which so frequently occurs among workers, and 
always with fatal results. 

The queen will continue to fly abroad every day for 
several days if she does not succeed in mating; but if 
she does not mate before a certain length of time, or if 
she fails to mate at all, she will never lay any but un- 
fertilized or drone eggs 133 

Huber: Obs. on Nat. Hist. Bees . ' 134 

" In the vast creation " — Latreille : Hist, of Insects under 

article Bees. Quoted by Huish 137 

Packard'' s Guide to the Study of Insects 138 

'"'^^QS^restrvQ" — Huber : Obs. on Nat. Hist. Bees . 139 

Cheshire: Bees and Bee-keeping 140 

A.I. Root: A. B.C. of Bee mature 144 

John B7irroughs : locusts and Wild Honey. The Pas- 
toral Bees j.g 

La?igstroth : The Honey Bee . . i c q 

Appendix 395 


//mry /v., PtU. Act IV. Sc. IV 156 

Swammerdam's story — quoted from ^^z/aw .... 159 

Thorley : The Fetn. Mon 160 

John Burroughs : Locusts and Wild Honey. Pastoral 

Bees 162 

Bear-traps — Menzel ; Myth. Forsch 168 

Htiish : Bees 1 68 

American king-bird — Bevan 170 

" Attic maiden " — Merivale''s Trans 1 70 

Honey-bird of East Indies and Africa — Cuculus indicator 1 70 
" Shirach very gravely " — Kirby and Spence . . . . 173 
Mexicans, Hottentots, Negroes of Guiana eat bees — 

Menzel : Myth. Forsch 174 

" Humming moths " — John Muir : Mountains of 

California 177 

Rosemary honey in Narbonne — Bevan. 1S2 

Balm of Pontus — Menzel: Myth. Forsch 182 

Sealed cans or bottles of honey bearing the mark of the 
apiary whence the honey came can be relied upon. 
Pure honey after standing awhile has a tendency to 
granulate, and this, which is a sign of its purity, is by 
some mistakenly supposed to be a sign of adulteration, 
and glucose honey, which does not granulate, is there- 
fore preferred by those ignorant of this characteristic 

of honey 186 

The adulteration of honey is an offence punishable by 
law. Glucose, according to Gleanings in Bee Culture, 
Mch. 15, 1897, can be very easily detected as follows : 187 
" Add three spoonfuls of alcohol to one of the honey to be 
tested, stir vigorously for awhile, and then let the mixture 
stand for about fifteen minutes. If it then has a bluish milky 
cast, as if a very little milk had been mixed with a small quan- 
tity of water, glucose is present." 

Xenophon s Anabasis, bk. iv. ch. viii 188 

Strata : Geog. of Greece, xii. 3 189 

Poisonous honey near Philadelphia — see Bevan: The 
Honey Bee 191 

' 39^ Appendix 


" A party of young men " — Ibid. igr 

List of poisonous plants in this country given by Dr. 

Barton — //$'/(^. igt 

The honey gathered from rhododendrons and laurels 
contains a narcotic poison which is to be treated medi- 
cally as such 192 

It is probably because of the sticky surface of these flowers 
that hive-bees are not fond of them. The bumble-bee can free 
itself, but smaller bees are sometimes entangled and so meet 
their death. 

" It has been a gross libel" — o^oit^hy Bevan . . . 194 
Gems and jumbles. Dr. J. C. Miller : Food Value of 

Honey 203 

Signs of the Rune calendar, drinking-horns, etc. — Teg- 

ner's Frithiofs Saga. Description of Ingeborg' s 

Ari7t-ring 207 

" He was a man in mind " — Tlie Gododin from Henry 

Morley : English Writers., vol. i 207 

" The heroes marched" — Ibid. 208 

" Yndvwlch and Cyvwlch the Tall " — Ibid. .... 208 

When Caradawg — Ibid 209 

" My limbs are racked " — Ibid. 209 

"Through Hrothgar's mind" — Beowulf: English 

Writers., i 210 

" Then she went round " — Ibid 210 

" The Queen said " — Ibid. 210 

" The bright warriors " — Ibid. 21 r 

" Never have I heard" — English Writers, vol. i. . . 211 
"Then asked Garigleri " — Sn. Edda, Gylfag., ch. 20, 

from Tegner''s Frithiof's Saga 211 

" My mead-cup's flavor " — King Bele and Thorsten 

Vikings son 212 

" Went there at times " — Tegner's Frithiof s Saga, 

Canto iii. 


" What wilt thou? " — /(^zV/., Canto iv 213 

" The bright-faced Gudrun ''—Corpus Poeticum Boreale. 

Appendix 397 

Gitdbvand Vigfiisson, M. A., and F. York Powell, 

M. A., vol. i. Atla Krida 213 

" I dreamed that two hawks " — Corpus Poetictim 

Boreale 214 

" Adam drowned his ghost " — Legends of the Holy Rood, 
ed. Richard Morris, S. S. D. Dispute bet. Mary and 

the Cross, xvi . 214 

" The fell Jews " — Ibid.,xvm 214 

Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5. 167 215 

Love's Labour'' s Lost, v. 2. 233 215 

" There is a wine " — Pliny : Nat. Hist., bk. xv. ch. xx. 219 
The Hydromel of y^ginata — Thos. Moffett : The. of 

Insects 220 

Galen's honeyed vinegar — Moffett . 221 

" Aswins, men who " — Rig- Ve da, 1 2,^-2, 226 

"When Aswins, you harness" — Rig- Veda, 157.2 . . 226 

" May the three-wheeled cart " — Rig-Veda, 157.3 . . 226 

" Bring us Aswins " — Rig-Veda, i^^.^ 226 

" With those aids " — Rig-Veda, 112. 21 226 

Honey was believed to come from the moon, hence the ref- 
erence to the Aswins delivering honey to the bees. 

" When Maruts" — 7?/>-F6'rt'^, 87.2 227 

" He then seeks her mouth '' — Grihya-Sfitra of Hiran- 

yakesin, i. 7.24 227 

" Let the father " ) c.^ ii* ^ ■, r-^, 

f .Sanknayana-Grthya-Sutra, 1. 24.34 • 227 

" I administer " > "^ -^ » t oh- / 

" When a son " — Asvaldyana-Grihya-Stitra, i. 15.1 . 228 

" Such food " — Ibid., xvi. 5 228 

"He pours cold water" — Sdnkhdyana-Grihya-SCitra, 

i. 28.8 228 

"This branch" — Ibid., iii. 2.5.6 229 

A son was the dearest wish of the Hindu, as otherwise the 
proper sacrifices could not be performed at the father's death, 
and as honey is mythically connected with birtli and the pro- 
duction of offspring, hence the invocation at the founding of 
a home. Cattle were the chief wealth of the ancient Hindus, 

398 Appendix 

and the significance of the ever-fertile cow is sufficiently 

" If the bees" — 7.5/,^., V. 10. 1. 2. 3 229 

( " What is the honied " ) Grihya-Suira of Hiranyakesin, 

I" I eat thee" j i. 4.13 230 

" Having cooked " — Pdraskara-Grihya-Sutra^\\. 16.2 . 230 
The vow, at the cutting of the beard, to avoid honey — 

Khodira-Grihya-Siltra, ii. 5.11 230 

It probably was true then, as at the present day, that honey 
was believed to be stimulating and heating in its effects, and 
therefore was not considered desirable food for students or 
for youths. 

The bee at the heart of the lotus. The Indian Songs of 
Nagha, referred to by Menzel : MythologiscJie Forsch- 

migen MonograpJiie der Biene 231 

The bee the symbol of love 231 

Where we find the bee in mythology we usually find it sym- 
bolical of the creative power, representing love, birth, and 
even the new birth, the resurrection into the higher life, as 
will appear more fully later. 

The companions of Kama — see Wilkitis' Hindu 

Mythology 232 

"The Puranas distribute " — Colebrooke : Essays: Reli- 
gious Ceremonies of Hind^is and Bialinians . . . . 232 
" The waters became solid " — PYs/imi-Purana, i. 13 . 233 

" The flesh of " — Vis/utii-Furana, ui. 16 233 

" In former times " — /did. 233 

The student prohibited the use of honey — Vishnu-Si'itra, 

Probably for the reason already given. 

Taxes —/<5/(7., 3.25 

" One who has stolen honey " — Ibid., 44 


When passing honey — Ibid., 63.30 
" Unless it consist " — Ibid., 63.45 
Exemption from disease — Ibid., 92. 16 
To obtain beauty — Ibid.,<^o.26 . . 

..... 234 

17 .... 234 

..... 234 

..... 234 

. . . . , 234 

... o . 234 

Appendix 399 


" Her eyes were similar " — Vishmi-Sutra, i. 22 . . . 234 
Kama's death 238 

The harsh decree was afterwards modified, and the god of 
love restored to life upon the wedding of Uma and Siva, and 
at the present day is as efficient in the use of his flower-tipped 
arrows as he was of yore. 

" When bees festoon" 239 

Lines and clusters of dark bees laid upon the light surface 
of the lotus-flowers is a frequent image in Hindu poetry. 
In the extravagant language of a later age when nothing 
was spared that could add force or color to a phrase, 
we find the sacred and mysterious word Om thus used, 
— the divine Sarasvate, goddess of learning, still a 
maiden of tender years, serving Brahma, is described. 
In the flowers of her ear-ornaments tribes of devoted 
bees attended upon her like repeated oms accompany- 
ing the "Cruti." Harsa-Carita, a. h'lstoncal romcLiice 
by Bana — Trans, by E. B. Cowell and F. W. Thomas. 239 
" What sounds are these ? " — Kdlidasd : The Hero and 

the Nytnph 239 

" The dried up dew " 242 

In the rutting season a thick honey-like dew, attractive to 
bees, exudes from the elephant's temples. 

This secretion does not appear to have been offensive to 
the people, far otherwise, and there are frequent references 
to it. The following quotations from Bana's liarsa-Carita 
graphically, and possibly with exaggeration, describe this phe- 
nomenon. The elephant stable is observed, — "indistinct, 
owing to the distance, but regaling the nostrils with an odor 
as of groves of Vakida trees in full bloom which diffused itself 
far and wide, while the stable was filled with streams of ichor 
covered with bees." 

" Sweet inebriating fragrance " 243 

The inebriating effect of the nectar of flowers upon the bees 
is a favorite fancy with the Hindu poets, as is also the song 
of the bee, but of all the wild flights of fancy indulged in on 
the subject, nothing is known to the present writer to com- 

400 Appendix 

pare with this, culled from the Harsa-Carita. The description 
is of a portion of the bank of a beautiful river, — 

" Here are honeyed voices of peacocks, trees having stocks 
besanded with heaps of pollen, the entrancing hum of lute- 
like clusters of scent-intoxicated bees." 

" A fragrance of flowers " 243 

The bridegroom also was not without his charms, which, 
however, will not be so fully appreciated by modern readers, 
for we are informed that, " A throng of bees crowding towards 
his fragrance arrayed his willowy form as with a dark gar- 
ment." In another part of the romance we have this oriental 
description of the future bride : " her blooming moon-like face 
flooding the world with an outpouring of beauty like a stream 
of passion, buoyed up by swarms of dusky bees attracted by 
the fragrance of her flowery couch." 

It is worth while to know that the youth of whom she was 
enamoured and whom she finally married presented many 
very remarkable characteristics and among them, " His mouth, 
breathing a fragrance of mangoes, camphor, kakkala-irmts, 
cloves, and coral trees, and resounding with a hubbub of in- 
toxicated bee-swarms, seemed to emit a very spring together 
with a pandana forest." 

The king of this period had a voice " flowing like a river 
of honey." 

One cannot help wondering if this attraction of the bees 
to a fragrant breath or body was not sometimes fraught with 
unpleasant consequences, for the sting of a tropical bee is se- 
vere, and in fact such a mishap was dreaded, as we learn from 
the king's jester in the Nagananda, a Buddhist drama : — 

" Halloa ! why now do these odious bees attack me ? " 
(smelling himself.) "Ah! I see how it is. I have been re- 
spectfully decked with perfumes by the relations of Malay- 
avati, as the bridegroom's friend, and a garland of Saritaria 
flowers has been placed upon my head, and now that very 
respect has become a cause of an annoyance." 

As a rule, however, those who fell victims to the bees were 
pious hermits practising their devotions and standing motion- 
less with helpless, outspread arms. One very sad case is re- 
lated of a hermit whose sacred though powerful odors dis- 

Appendix 401 

turbed a beautiful lady walking with her husband the king. 
She prevailed upon her lord to assist her in cleansing the 
devotee and rubbing him down with aromatic oils. 

It is related that he patiently submitted, not only to the 
cleansing process, but also to the swarms of bees that straight- 
way fell upon him and that the too sensitive lady received a 
terrible and fitting punishment from the gods for objecting to 
the odor of sanctity. 

In the Nagananda we find the following polite form of ask- 
ing for a kiss : — 

" O lovely one ! if this face of thine, with its pink flush as 
it is lighted up by the sun's rays, and with its soft down re- 
vealed by the spreading gleam of its teeth, is really a lotus, 
why is not a bee seen drinking the honey from it ? " 

The two fables — see Clock : Symbolik der Bienefi . . 245 
The Bee's Dream — The Warner Library of tlie World^s 

Best Literature. Lndian Lit 246 

Honey at the wedding — see MenzeVs Myth. Forsch., 
where it is related that bees clustering upon the puden- 
dum is used symbolically in India to signify fruitful- 
ness, honey in marriage celebrations having a similar 
significance 246 

We are also told that not only the brow and the mouth, 
but also the eyelids, ears, and pudendum of the bride are 
touched with honey accompanied by benedictions. See Men- 
zefs Myth. Forsch., Clock's Symbolik der Bienen, and Religions 
Ceremonies of Hindus and Bi ahmans, Colehrooke Essays. 

In the following description of a bridal chamber, taken 
from Bands Harsa-Carita, the presence of the bees is no 
doubt significant : 

"About its portals were figured the spirits of Love and Joy. 
Bees, going before like friends, raised a hubbub. The charmed 
lamps, which lighted it, swayed in the wind of the bees' wing." 
Egyptian Hieroglyphics — Saml. Sharpe, 1861. Diet. 

of Hieroglyphics — Saml. Birch. Er/naji's Life of 

Ancient Egypt. Wilkinson — Ancient Egyptians . 247 
"On the festival day" — From the love-songs of a 

Turin papyrus : Erniaii's LJfe of Anct. Egypt . . . 250 




" The king appoints " — Trans, from Clock's Symbolik 
der Bienen 

" I take you to wife " — Ibid. 

Things compounded with honey for medicine, etc., etc., 
— W. M. Flinders Peirie : History of Egypt . . . 

" Bees are kept in Egypt " — Encyc. Brit. Art. Bees . . 

"He falls more easily "^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^,^ ^^^^.^ Proverbs 

" The lazy " ) 

" Nor want " — Iiiiati Shafay Mohanivied ben Id^-is. 
(Specimens of Arabian poetry. — I. D. Carlyle.) . 

The Assemblies of Al Hariri — Trans, by Thomas 

Firdusi's Epic of Kings — Trans, by Helen Zimniern . 

Divan of Hafiz — Trans, by H. Wilberforce Clarke . 

"At Harshness " — Odes of Hajiz, cxx\:x. 

Les Bedouins, ou Arabes du desert. Raphael Trans, 
from Friedreich, Die Sy7nbolik tend Mythologie der 

" There proceedeth a liquor of various colors." There 
is the following note in the Rev. J. M. Rodwell's trans- 
lation of the Koran : " The Arabs are curious in and 
fond of honey. Mecca alone affords eight or nine 

varieties, green, white, red, and brown " 

This does not mean that Mecca has that many varieties of 

bees. Honey differs in color, flavor, and consistency accord- 
ing to the flowers from which it is gathered. 

Strabo — Geography of Greece, xv. 3 

Diana of the Ephesians. The Ancient Empires of the 

East — A. H. Sayce, p. 223 

" And the Amorites " — Deuteronomy i. 44 . 

"All nations" — Psahns cxviii. 10. 12 

" Butter and honey " — Isaiah \n. 15 . . . 

" My son " — Proverbs xxiv. 13.14 

" How sweet are thy words " — Psalms cxix. 103 

" The judgments of the Lord " — Psalms xix. 9 

" Pleasant words " — Proverbs xvi. 24 . . . 

" Take of the best " — Genesis xlm. 11 . , . 













Appendix 403 


"And take with thee " — 1 Kitigs -lav. 2, 260 

Honey brought to David's army — 2 Satmiel xvn. 29 . 260 

Manna " and the taste of it " — Exodus xvi. 31 ... 260 

First fruits — 2 Chronicles xxi. 5 260 

" Ye shall burn " — Leviticus n. 11 260 

Bees unclean — Leviticus xi. 22.23 260 

Honey as first fruits, see Crtideji's Concordance (com- 
plete edition) " Honey " 260 

" He shall not see " — Job xx. 17 260 

" He should have fed thee " — Psalms Ixxxi. 16 . . . 261 

" Thus wast thou " — Ezekiel xm. 13 261 

" My meat " — Ezekiel x\\. 19 261 

"Judah" — Ezekiel xxvn. 17 261 

Story of Samson — Judges x\v 261 

" He made him uAe'''' — Deuterono7ny xxxii. 13 . . . 262 

"And they gave him" — Luke xxiv. /^2 262 

" And I went unto " — Revelation x. <^.\o 262 

In the "Curious History of Insects," by Frank Cowan, we 
read, "The Septuagint has the following eulogism on the 
bee in Proverbs vi. 8, wliich is not found in the Hebrew 

" ' Go to the bee, and learn how diligent she is, and what a 
noble work she produces, whose labors kings and private men 
use for their health ; she is desired and honored by all, and 
though weak in strength, yet since she values wisdom she pre- 
vails.' — Smith's Dictionary of the Bible." 

" There were figs and grapes " — Warner Libraiy 

VVorld^s Best Literature. Egypt. Lit 262 

Greek and Roman Bee — see Clock's Symbolik der 

Bienen 264-5 

" Nor scythe nor famine " — Hesiod : Works and Days 266 
" With milk and nectar " — Ovid : Meta.^hk. \. . . . 266 

" The very cradle " — Virg.:Buc.Ecl.,iv 266 

" Hyrcania is very fertile " — Strabo : Geog. oj Greece., xi. 7 267 
metretes = about seven gallons 
si.xty medimni := " twelve " 
" Here Mincius " (the river Mincius) — Virg. : Eel., vii, 267 

404 Appendix 

Bees bred from hornets and sun — Columella : Of Hus- 
bandry 2^7 

"An olive tret'" —Homer : Odys., xiii. 123. Bryant's 

trans 268 

" The priestesses of Ceres " — Porphyry : On the Cave 

of tJie Ny^nphs i68 

"Above all, venerate " — Virg. : Geor.fx 269 

Sacrifices to Ceres. Athenaeus tells us — Heraclides the 
Syracusan, in his treatise on Laws, says, that in Syra- 
cuse on the principal day of the Thesmophorion festi- 
val (held in honor of Ceres) cakes in the form of the 
female pudendum are made of sesame and honey, and 
are used tliroughout all Sicily, being carried about as 
offerings to the goddess. This recalls certain mar- 
riage observances of the ancient Hindus 269 

Ceres' priestess torn to pieces — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. 269 
" The Moon likewise " — Forphyiy : Ott the Cave of the 

Nyinphs 269 

" O blest son " — Pindar: Pyth.fw 270 

Apollo's oldest temple — Pausanias : The Descrip. of 

Greece^ bk. x. 5 270 

Apollo the god of the bees — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. . 270 

According to Hawk's Peruv. Antiq., p. 198, " Honey was 
offered up to the sun by the ancient Peruvians." 

"Single out four choice bulls" — Virg. : Geor., iv. . . 271 

" Some have alleged " — Ibid. 272 

Democritus promised resurrection — Gubernatis Zoologi- 
cal Mythology ; Menzel: Myth. Forsch 273 

Alexander buried in honey — Menzel: Myth. Forsch. 

Monogr. d. B 274 

Whiston's Josephus — Rev. A. R. Shilleto, xiv. vii. 4 . 273 

"At once they mixed " — y^/ci//. 7?/?^,^., bk. iv. . . . 275 

"To Phrygia's steeps "— £'//;7)^. .• Ttie Bacchce . . . 276 

" The ivy wands " — Ibid. 276 

"And he set therein" — Iliad, xxiii. Lang, Leaf, and 

Myers 276 

Appendix 405 


"Why, then, crown they" — Lucian : Coj}iedies Charon 278 

" To whom the prophetess " — Aineid, v\ 279 

See Clock'' s Symbolik der Bienen^ P- ^79 279 

" Or dulcet cakes " - — Tihullus : Elegy, yi\ 279 

" Nay, but an if " — Theocritus : Idyl. Lang's trans. . 279 

" Cupid once " — Anacreon. Trans, by Thomas Moore . 280 

" Give me to sing " — Horace : Ode, xix 2S2 

" There are three Fates " — from Homer's Hyuni to 

Mercury. Trans, by Percy Bysshe Shelley .... 283 

" By no means " — Livy : Hist, of Rome 284 

" It was by this " — Cicero : On Divination, bk. i. . . 284 

" Bees settled, too " — Pliny : Nat. Hist., xi. 18 . . . 284 

" In the centre " — Virgil: yEneid, v\\. 2S5 

" Now the Amathusians " — Herodotus, " History," 

V. 114 285 

" Upon his tongue " — Hesiod : The Theogony . . . . 286 

" While Plato " — Cicero: On Divination, i. 36 . . . 286 

Bees settled. Pliny: Nat. Hist., kx. 18 286 

Xen. Soph. Pindar — see Clock: Syinbolik der Bienen . 287 
"So spake he" — Hiad, ii. Lang, Leaf, and Myers 

trans 288 

" For thee this woven garland " — Eiu^ipides : Hippo- 

lytus. Trans, by Arthur S. Way 290 

" Strong is the gale " — Horace: Odes,\v.'i .... 291 

" A stream of clean water " — -Ibid., iii. 16 291 

" Does any one" — MartiaPs Epigrams, i. 55 ... 292 

"Whose breath was" — Ibid, v. 37 292 

" The bee is enclosed " — Ibid., iv. 32 292 

" The bee that throngs " — Ibid., x\\\. 104 292 

" If quinces " — Ibid.,x\\\. 24 292 

" Theocles the Athenian" — Strabo's Ceog. of Creece, 

vi. 2 293 

" Galatea, daughter of Nereus — Virg. : Eel., vii. • . 293 

" Give me Diadumenus " — Martial : Epigrams, vi. 34 293 

" On this side a hedge " — Virg.: Eel., i 293 

"When you make" — Mart. : Epigrams, xiii. 105 . . 294 

" Like as flowery " — Ibid.,\'\. .\6 . 294 

4o6 Appendix 


"It is reported" — /^z^., vii. 88 294 

"You have a name" — Z^/-^., ix. 13 294 

" He who ventures " — Ibid., ix. 26 295 

"You ask for " — /^zV/., xi. 42 295 

" Get thee to Ida" — Theoc. : Idyls, i. Lang's trans, . 295 

" Ah, regard my heart's " — Ibid.,\\\ 296 

" That way I will not " — Ibid., v 296 

" The Song of Simichidas " — Ibid., \\\ 296 

" So sang the lads " — Ibid., viii. 296 

" Cicala to cicala is dear " — Ibid.,\x 296 

" Shepherds, tell me " — Ibid., xx 297 

"Thy sudden doom, O Bion " — Moschus : Idyls, iii. 

Lang 297 

" And it is said " — Atheiiceus, \\ 298 

Roscher — Nektar 7ind Ambrosia 299 

"But Aristoxemus" — AthencEus, i 300 

" But praise the cheesecakes " — Ibid.,\\\. . .• . . . 303 

" A three-legged table " — Ibid.,v\ 303 

"Thirty times" — Mart.: Epigrains, v. 39 303 

" Attic honey thickens " — Ibid., xiii. 108 307 

" We give you " — ■ Ibid., x\\\. -^7 308 

" Hitherto we have endeavored " — Qnintilian : Inst, of 

the Orator, bk. iii 309 

"The bees do not hunt " — Arist. : Hist. An., iv. 8 -311 

"Among the trembling citizens " — y£neid, xW. . . . 311 

" It is not surprising" — Pliny : Nat. Hist., xi. 9 . . 312 

S&t Clock's Synibolik der Bietten 313 

"According to some writers " — see Moffetfs Theatre of 

Insects 313 

Bees of Greece and Rome — see Clock's Syniboltk der 

Bienen 3x3 

Wax figures — Ibid. 314 

Wax pomegranates — Diog. : Laert., vii. 17. According 

to Glock 


Die Adonisklage und das Linaslied. Brugsch. See 

Aso Brugsch's Mythologie der Aegypten Hnr. Hor. 
Horus _jg 



enaix 407 


"And where men are disturbed" — Plato: The Laws, 

xi. 930. Jowett's trans 317 

Die Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur . J. B. Fried- 
reich. See Zoological Mythology. Gubernaiis. 
MenzeVs Mythologische Forschungen. MeiizeVs 
Christliche Symbolik. Clock's Syfnbolik der Bieiien. 

Gri}n)n''s Deutsche Mythologie 319-325 

Butler's reference for his stories — Tho. Bozius de Signis 

EcclesicB. Lib. 14, c. 3 327 

" Adjure te, mater aviorum " — quoted by Gubernatis. 

Zoolog. Myth 327 

Atzmann abused — Gri7n?tt : Deutsche Myth 330 

The Ackersegen — Ibid. 334 

" To him who has " — translated from Ibid. .... 336 

Polish and Russian bee-god — Ibid. 337 

Russian peasants consider it sacrilegious to kill a bee — 

Glock : Sy7nbolik der Bienen 337 

Bee settles on head of youngest son — Ibid. .... 337 

Bee selects bride — Ibid. 337 

Honey gave the gift of poetry — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. 338 
Bienlein unser Herr ist todt — Glock : Synib. d. B. . . 339 
"Ah, yes, when my aunt died" — Harris: The Honey 

Bee 340 

" I have since ascertained " — Ibid. 340 

Norfolk bee superstitions — Ibid. 340 

"A neighbor of mine " — Ibid. 340 

■'An Oxfordshire woman " — Ibid. 340 

Hives put in mourning in France. Custom in Pyrenees 

— Menzel: Myth. Forsch 341 

The book written in 1621 — quoted by Harris in The 

Honey Bee 341 

" Imen in, imen ut " — Glock: Sym. d. B 342 

MenzeVs Myth. Forsch. Monographie der Biene . . . 342 
" Fleiszig wie der Biene Leben. 
Ist das Ackerleben. 
Und siisz wie der Honig, 
Ist der Ehestand." 

4o8 Appendix 


Bergius' Leckereien — quoted by Mejtzel in Myth. 

' Forsch ^^^ 

Browny, Browny — Harris : The Honey Bee .... 344 
Burmese &XQ\i?\m\ng — Me7izd : Myth. Forsch. from 

Symer 344 

" True be it said " — Fairy Queen, bk. iv. canto x. . . 345 

Jean Ingelow — Divided. Ft. i 34^ 

" The wild bee reels " — Oscar Wilde 349 

" Woiwoden Wisniowicky " — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. 2)^o 

Woodbury & Burnett — Heraldry, vol. i. 281-282 . . 350 

Bee-hives on coats of arms — /i^/V/., 284 351 

The plant acymum nigrum — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. . 352 
" Bees discover the approach of" — Arist. : Hist. An., 

ix. 25 352 

" Bees also appear to have pleasure" — Ibid., ix. 23 . . 353 
And, above all, according to Hyginus, at least a day 

before he goes near "the hallowed spot of the virgin 

bees," he must have remained continent 355 

The story of Nantes — Menzel : Myth. Forsch. . . . 356 
Wildman and the bees — Edward Bevan : The Honey 

Bee. Revised, etc., by Mr. Augustus Munn . . . 356 

Naked priests in India — Md?«^,?/.- Myth. Forsch. . . 357 

Negro and Pole — /bid. 357 

Herb melia — /did. 358 

Erasmus' epistle — Bntler : Fern. Mon. 359 

See Hooker's Himalayan Journals, ii. 16 365 

" The workers, more slender " — Frank Benton : The 

Honey Bee 367 

See Diet, of Economic Products of India: Geo. Walt. 

London, 1890 36S 

" The Egyptians exhibit " — Savary in Letters on 

Egypt, quoted by Robert Huish in '■'■ Bees j Their 

A^atural History and General Management.''' 1844 369 
" On the West Coast " — The Hive and its Wonders. 

London, 1876 370 

"They build their nest" — Ree's Encyclopaedia, quoted 

in English trans, of Huber : Obs. on the A^at. Hist. 

of Bees. 1841 ,70 


)endix 409 


" Extraordinarily rich " — Reise iji Brasilien. Dr. Joh. 

Bapt. -von Spix. Dr. Carl Friedr. Phil von Mar- 

iztis, 1828. Bales' Naturalist on the River Amazons, 

chap, viii t-tj 072 

Russia and Poland rich in bees — John Huiiter : A 

Manual of Bee-keeping. 1875. . • 373 

Wax of Corsica — Ibid. 373 

East Friesland — Langstroth:- The Hojiey Bee . . . 373 
Nuremberg celebrated for bee-keepers — Menzel : MylJi. 

Forsch^ 373 

"These insects " — Bevan-Munn : The Honey Bee . . 375 
" When John Eliot " —quoted by Langstroth from Bee 

Journal 377 

" It is surprising " — Washington Irving: Miscellanies. 

Tour on the Prairies. 1832, chap, ix 380 

Hive in empty powder cask — Menzel: Myth. Forsch. . 380 

Combs large as city gates — Grimm : Deutsch. Myth. . 381 

" There is a village " — /"///zy, xxi. 43 385 

Columella's statement about Greeks — quoted hy Afeti- 

zel: Myth. Forsch 386 

Bees conveyed from Euboea — Bevan-Munn : The 

Honey Bee 386 

Urquhart — -quoted by Af£?//5-i?/.- Myth. Forsch. . . . 386 

Kohl's Siidruszland — Ibid. 386 

" Some 12,000 lbs." — Frank Benton \n Bees .... 387 

People of La Beauce — Huish and others ..... 387 
" Bees will go " — John Bjirroughs : Locusts and Wild 

Honey. The Pastoral Bees 388 


Abb^ Barth^lemy, 375. 
Abdomen, 11, 13, 14, 15, 61, 81, 86, 

«7, 94, 95- 

Abyssinians, mead, 206. 

Acid reaction of honey, 81. 

Ackersegen, 334. 

Adonis, 316. 

Adulterated honey, 187. {See Appen- 

jEschykis, 277, 290. 

Africa, 93, 187, 252, 370. 

African honey-bird, 170. (&^ Appen- 

Agesilaus, 252. 

Air-cavities, 61. 

Air-sacs, 61. 

Air-tubes, 61. 

Albert Diirer, 281. 

Alcseus, 276. 

Alder-honey, 177. 

Alexander the Great, 10, 274. 

Alexandria, 315, 316. 

Altenberg monastery, 325. 

Amalthea, 265, 267. 

Ambrosia, 9, 245, 299. 

Anabasis, 188. 

Anacreon, 280, 306. 

Andromeda, 193. 

Aneurin, 207, 209. 

Antenna cleaner, 74, 76, 79. 

Antennae, 13, 43-54, 120, 132, 139. 

Antenor, 93. 

Aphides, 198, 199. 

Apis, 14, 15. 

Apis Dorsata, 364, 365, 366, 367. 

Apis Florea, 367. 

Apis Indica, 364, 367. 

Apis Mellifica, 188, 364. 

Apollo, 270, 271, 2S3. 

ApoUonius Rhodius, 206, 275, 311. 

Arabia, 10, 11, 254, 255. 

Arabs, 187. 

Aristaeus, 270, 271, 275. 

Aristobulus, 273. 

Aristophanes, 306, 307. 

Aristotle, II, 12,310,311,312; " His- 
tory of Animals," 115; on bees as 
weather prophets, 352 ; on cleanli- 
ness, j^i 'S' ! '^^ drone, 129; on 
exclusion of drones, 135 ; on hear- 
ing, 46; on horses stung, 108; on 
incubation, 138 ; on loss of sting, 
102 ; on noises bees like, 352 ; on 
origin of bees, 116; on origin of 
wax, 86 ; on purity of bee, 274 ; on 
queen's sting, 126 ; on sex of bees, 
115; on smelling, 51 ; on smoking 
bees, 155 ; on source of honey, 195 ; 
on swallow, 170; on toad, 170; on 
voice of bee, 64 ; on wasps, 171. 

Armenians, 386. 

"A Roman Beehive," 323. 

Artemis, 269. 

Artificial comb, 141. 

Artificial wax, 94. 

Ash, 192, 196. 

Asia Minor, 191, 386. 

"Assemblies of Al Hariri," 255. 

Assyrians, 257. 

Atargatis, 257, 258. 

Athenaeus, 290, 298-308. 

Athens, 264. 

Attica, iSi, 264, 374, 3S6. 

Attic bee, 287, 295. 


Attic combs, 292. 

Attic honey, 292, 294, 307. 

Austheia, -^i^iT. 

Australia, 128, 1S4, 370. 

Azalea, 193. 

Azman, 330. 

Babilos, 337. 

Bacchus, 274, 275, 276, 315. 

Bahii of Pontus, 182. 

Bana, 244, 245. 

Bancroft, 174. 

Bates' " Naturalist on the River Ama- 
zons," 371. 

Bavaria, 343. 

Bear, 165, 166, 167, 168, 231, 232, 337. 

Beaumont and Fletcher, 129. 

Bedas of Ceylon, 202. 

Bedouins, 255. 

Bee-balm, 358. 

Bee-bread, 147, 148, 149, 173. 

Bee-chapel, 325. 

Bee Creek, 93. 

Bee culture in America, 384. 

Bee-father, 354, 355. 

Bee-glue {see Propolis), 149. 

Bee- god, 270, 337. 

Bee-gums, 382. 

Bee-hat, iii. 

Bee-hive, 157, 207, 320. 

Bee-hunters, 168, 365. 

Bee Journal, 340, 377. 

Bee-keeper, 107, 172. 

Bee-keeping, 314. 

Bee-line, 43, 66, 67, 168. 

Bee-martin, 170. 

Bee-masters, 373, 374. 

Bee-milk {see Royal Jelly), 123. 

Bees-wax, 166, 370. 

Bee, symboHcal of creative power, 231, 
258, 268, 269, 274, 358 ; see also 
Appendix; symbolical of immor- 
tality of soul, 269; symbolical of 
purity, 324, 325 ; symbolical of res- 
urrection, 272, 273, 274, 324; sym- 
bolical of soul, 320, 324. 

Bees, as augurs of good or bad fortune, 
229, 283-287, 350; as emblem of 
well-governed state, 297; as medi- 


cine, 85 ; as nymphs, 258 ; as priest- 
esses, 257; as prophets, 336, 359; 
as prophets of eloquence, 320 ; as 
prophets of greatness, 286, 287; as 
prophets of white man's approach, 
Xn ; as weather prophets, 352 ; 
eaten by bears, 167; birds, 169, 170; 
foxes, 168; frogs, 170; hornets, 171 ; 
lizards, 171 ; people, 174 ; pigs, 169 ; 
spiders, 171; toads, 1 70 ; tree-frogs, 
1 70; wasps, 171 ; age of worker, 152; 
classification of, 14, 15; communal 
life of, 135 ; description of, 13 ; 
disposition of, 103, 104 ; distances 
sent, 128; drowned in cane juice, 
194; die from famine, 385; easily 
handled, 107, 356, 357, 358 ; en- 
closed in amber, 292 ; feeding others, 
153; foragers, 147; gathering pol- 
len, 147; intoxicated, 194, 242; 
introduced to America, 165, 377; 
kinds imported, 128 ; manner of 
working, 143; means of defence, 91, 
92 ; moonlight work, 152, 178 ; 
names of places, 359 ; names of 
periodicals, 360 ; new breed formed, 
127 ; new varieties introduced to 
America, 389 ; origin of good wo- 
men, 358 ; perish through milkweed, 
183; poisoned by flowers, 192; race 
odor of, 84; toilet of, 153; trans- 
ported for pasture, 369, 385, 386, 
387, 388 ; used as medicine, 85 ; 
when queen is removed, 119. 

Bee's madrigal, 48. 

Beestings, 309. 

Bee-tree, 165, 166, 168, 169, 245, 3S1, 

Beeville, 359. 

Benton, Frank, 123, 366, 384. 

Beowulf, 210, 211. 

Bergius, 342. 

Bernard of Clairvaux, 320. 

Bethlehem, 387. 

Bevan, 85, 182, 199, 216, 217. {See 

Bhavabhuti, 243, 244. 

Bible, 258-263. 

Bienenzeitung, m. 



Birds that eat bees, 169, 170. 

Black bears, 167. 

Black bumble-bees, 167. 

Black comb, 147, 188. 

Black honey, 187. 

Black wax, 88, 187, 188, 318, 373, 381. 

Blue thistle, 179. {See Viper's bu- 

Bochart, 93. 
Bombus, 15, 31, 33, 34, 36. {See 

Bonner's bald head, 109. 
Bonnet, Charles, 362. 
" Book of the Bee," 320. 
Brahma, 232. 
Brain, 54, 55 ; of queen, 120 ; of drone, 

Branched hairs, 77. 
Brazil, 187, 371. 
Breathing, 67. 

Brimstone, 155, 156, 285, 310, 311. 
Brisa, 275, 276. 
Brittany, 342. 
Browning, 127. 
Brugsch Bey, 251, 316. 
Brushes, for cleaning bee, 76, "jy ; for 

pollen, 148. 
Buckwheat honey, 180, 181, 182, 387. 
Buffon, 169. 

Bull and bee, 249, 256, 271, 324. 
Bumble-bee, 15, 16, 19, 21, 27-31, 37, 

66, 76, 80, 142, 165, 167, 172, 184, 

194, 389) 390- 

Burmeister, 64. 

Burmese, 344. 

Burns, 349, 350. 

Burroughs, John, 84, 148, 162, 163, 
164, 165, 168, iSi, 182, 388. 

Butler, 12, 40, 48, 57, 73r 77, 81, 84, 
86, 100, loi, 105, no, 115, 117, 125, 
129, 156, 161, 178, 183, 196, 200, 201, 
202, 215, 217, 223, 325, 359. {See 

Butterfly, 37, 60, 61. 

Byron, 375, 

California, 93, 128, 167, 374, 

378, 379, 380, 3S4, 388, 390- 
Canary Islands, 182. 


Candy, 10. 

Cane-sugar, 10, 81, 82. 

Cape Cod, 381. 

Cappadocia, 282. 

Carcasses for breeding bees, 116, 117, 
271, 272. 

Caribbean Islands, 174. 

Carniolan bees, 389. 

Carolina, 159, 179, 193, 341, 3S2. 

Cassandra, 285. 

Catnip honey, 181. 

Cells of wax, 142-147; drone cells, 
121 ; queen cells, 121. 

Cerberus, 278, 279. 

Ceres, 268, 269, 271, 315. {See Ap- 

Ceylon, 174, 202. 

Chambrier, 64. 

Charon, 277. 

Chaucer, 214, 345. 

Cheshire, 46, 60, 140. {See Appen- 

China, 10, 257, 341. 

Chrysostom, 320. 

Chufu, 247. 

Cicero, 100, 284, 286, 314. 

Cider honey, 194. 

Cineraria, 192. 

Circassian legend, 336. 

Cleanliness of bee, 72,, 84, 151, 152. 

Cleome Integrifolia, 178. 

Clover honey, 27, 43, 177, 178, 179, 
180, 366, 367, 2,77, 389- 

Cocoon of larva, 124. 

Coleridge, 199. 

Collecting hairs, 77, 79, 148. 

"College of Bees," 359. 

Color of combs, 187, 1S8. 

Color of honey, 187. {See Appen- 

Color sense of bees, 42, 43. 

Columella, 104, 155,171,267, 313,314, 

Comb building, 140, 141. 

Comb foundation, 146. 

Combs, built out of doors, 364, 365, 
366, 367, 370, 3S0 ; melting of, 166 ; 
quality of, 188 ; spoiled by propohs, 


Cook, A. J., 384. 

Corbiculum, 78. (See Pollen basket.) 

Corinth, 375. 

Cornel, 192. 

Cornwall, 344. 

Corsica, 192, 204, 294, 295, 373. 

Cotton honey, iSo. 

Cretans, 265. 

Crete, 93, 190, 264, 267, 268, 302. 

Cross fertilization, 182, 183. 

Cucumbers, 184, 204. 

Cudraka, 241. 

Cummings, 370. 

Cupid, 280, 281, 282, 347. 

Curative properties, of bees, 85 ; of 
honey, 84, 85, Sy, 191, 251, 252, 
309; of poison of bee, 11 1 ; of pro- 
polis, 150; of wax, 87, 88. 

Cure for stings, 90, loi, 109, no. 

Curing of honey, 145. 

"Curious History of Insects," 174. 

Cuvier, 362. 

Cybele, 268. 

Cyprian bees, 389. 

Cypripedium acaule, 31, 35, 36. 

Cyprus, 128. 

Danube, 93. 

Darwin, 150, 370. 

Dead preserved in honey, 252, 253, 

Death's head moth, 173. 
Deborah, 259, 359. 
De Geer, 362. 
Delia Sapienza, 323. 
Demeter, 268. 
Demetrius, 166. 
Democritus, 273, 298. 
" Dhammapada," 325^ 
Diana, 269 ; of the Ephesians, 257. 
Dickinson, Emily, 349. 
Dionysius, 284. 

Dionysos, 274, 279. (See Bacchus.) 
Dioscorides, 10. 
Diseases of bees, 175. 
"Dispute between Mary and the 

Cross,'' 214. 
Dogwood, 192. 
Drinking cups, 207. 


Drone, 103, 114, 115, 121, 

127, 129-136, 152, 154, 28 

122, 124, 
9, 297- 

Easter, 320. 

Ecclesiastes, 202. 

Eddas, 195, 196, 211, 212, 213, 338. 

Eggs, fertilized, 121 ; laid by queen, 

115, 119; laid by workers, 154; 

number laid, 120 ; of wax moth, 

173 ; unfertilized, 122. 
Egypt, 247-254, 364, 369, 370. 
Egyptian bees, 389. 
Eliot, John, 377. 
Empedocles, 281. 
Enemies of bees, 167, 168, 169, 170, 

171, 173) 174, 175- 
England, 341, 343. 
Ephesians, 257, 258. 
Euripides, 276, 277, 290, 303. 
Excrement, 84, 151, 152. 
Extracted honey, 186, 187. 
Eye-brush, 76. 
Eye-hairs, 42. 
Eyes, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 ; of drone, 132 ; 

of queen, 120. 

"Fable of the Bees," 323. 

Feelers (see Antennae); on palpi, 22; 

of sting, 95, no. 
Fermentation of honey, 81. 
Fertile workers, 154. 
Fertilization, of eggs, 121, 127; of 

flowers, 10; of fruit trees, 184; of 

iris, 30; of lady-slipper, 31. 
Fighting of bumble-bees, So. 
Fighting of queens, 125. 
Fights between swarms, 94, 172. 
Fights with bees, 91, 92, 93, 94, 108. 
Finland, 332. 
Finnish prayer, 336. 
Firdusi's " Epic of Kings," 255. 
Floating apiaries, 252, 370, 388. 
Florida, 149, 180, 194. 
Fly, 72, 165, 190, 250, 378. 
Food value of honey, 204, 222, 298, 

Foragers, 141, 147, 159. 
Formic acid, 81, 94. 
Foundation comb, 146, 147. 



France, 182, 341, 373. 
Friedreich {see Appendix), 92. 

Galen, 85, 219, 221. 
Gathering hairs, 77, 79, 148. 
Gay's " Rural Sports," 115. 
Germany, 128, 319, 327, 328, 329, 330, 

332, 34i>343>35S, 'iTh, 381,387. 
Gesta Romanorum, 331. 
Girard, 62, 64. 
Glands, of young bees, 138 ; nectar, 

177. ^ 
Glass hives, 150, 205. 
Glaukos legend, 273. 
Glucose, 1 87. 
Goddess of honey, 337. 
Gododin, 207, 208, 209. 
God of love, Hindu, 232, 234, 237, 

238, 243 ; Latin, 280, 281, 282. 
Golden age, 233, 266, 328, 347. 
Goldsmith, Oliver, 360. 
Grape-sugar, 81, 82. 
Grecian Archipelago, 91. 
Greece, 9, 188, 264-318. 
Guiana, 174. 

Hades, 277. 

Handling bees, 104, 107, no, in, 155, 

156, 157, 356, 357- 
Harris, 340, 341. 
" Harsa-Carita " {see Appendix), 166, 

Hartlieb, 330. 
Hearing, 46. 

Heather honey, 193, 387. 
Hebrews, 258, 259, 260. 
Hekate, 277. 
Hemlock honey, 192, 
Herbert, 324. 
Hering, Constantine, iii. 
Herodotus, 93, 253, 254, 257, 285. 
Herrick, 182. 

Hesiod, 11, 266, 276, 277, 2S6, 289. 
Hiawatha, 377. 
Hieroglyphics, 247, 248. 
Hindu literature, 225, 246. 
Hippocrates, 204. 
Hives, "bee-gums," 3S2 ; chinked by 

propolis, 150 ; entered by moths, 
173; hollow trees, 166, 245, 381, 
382 ; in Africa, 370 ; in India, 367, 
368 ; in South America, 373 ; moved 
upon death of owner, 341 ; well 
stocked, 1S5. 

Hogg, James, 65. 

Holland, 373. 

Holmes, 0. W., 348. 

Holy Land bees, 389. 

Holy wafers, 325, 326. 

Homer, 287 ; " Iliad," 276, 28S ; 
"Odyssey," 268, 278; "Hymn to 
Mercury," 283. 

Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia, 112. 

Honey, 177-205 ; acid reaction. Si ; 
adulterated, 187 ; amount stored, 
178, 179, 185 ; amount used to form 
wax, 87, 141 ; amount of nectar to 
make honey, 152 ; amount yielded 
by plants, 178, 179 ; at baptism, 320 ; 
bestows gift of poetry, 338 ; bestows 
knowledge, 226, 259 ; clearness of 
vision from, 85; colors of, 1S7; 
consistency of, 81 ; deposition in 
comb, 148; eaten on Maundy 
Thursday and New Year's Day, 
320 ; extracted honey, 186, 187 ; 
fermentation of, 81 ; flavors of, 
181 ; formic acid in, 81 ; forms 
wax, 86 ; from cane juice and cider, 
194 ; in buildings, 380, 3S1 ; in 
names of cities, 282 ; offered at 
sacrifices, 268; origin of, 195, 196; 
poisonous, 188-194; preserves bee 
poison, 107 ; preservative power, 
199, 273, 274 ; recipes, 199-204 ; re- 
gurgitation of, 82 ; ripening of, 81 ; 
Russian funeral rite, 337 ; source 
of, 195; strained honey, 186, 187; 
symbol of death, 276 ; symbol of 
procreation, 274 {see Appendix) ; 
symbol of carnal pleasure, 260 ; 
symbol of purity, 320 ; symbolism 
in Christian ages, 320; surplus, 147 ; 
used to incite love, 280 ; uses of, 
85, 86 ; value as food, 204, 222, 230, 
273, 29S, 299; value in U. S., 3S4; 
vinegar, 204. 




Honey and marriage, 227, 251 

Honey and the moon, 225, 226, 231, 

345- , J 

Honey, as first fruits, 260 ; as food, 
204, 222, 230, 273, 298, 299 (see 
Appendix) ; as medicine, 84, 85, i)"], 
191, 251, 252, 309; as offering to the 
dead, 277 ; as offering to the gods, 
252; as a sacrifice, 268, 279; as a 
term of endearment, 281, 282. 

Honey-bear, 169. 

Honey-cakes, 278, 304, 306, 307, 374. 

Honey-cakes of Nuremberg, 203. 

Honey-comb, drone-cells, 121; honey, 
cells, 121, 142, 366 ; irregularity of 
cells, i'46; worker-cells, 121; large 
combs, 188, 381 ; melting of comb, 
166, 167. 

Honey-dew, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 
266. {See Appendix.) 

Honey eaten by, badgers, 169 ; bears, 
167; birds, 170; foxes, i58; honey- 
bear, or sloth-bear, or East Indian 
bear, or aswail, or mellursus, 169 ; 
kinjajou, 169; mouse, 169; robber- 
bees, 150, 172, 354. 

Honeyed speech, 226, 251. 

Honeyed thigh, 70, 78. 

Honeyed vinegar, 221. 

Honeyed wine, 221, 222, 307. • 

Honey-extractor, 186. 

Honey-flavor, 83. 

Honey-fly, 250. 

Honey-gathering, 79. 

Honey in Hindu mythology, honey 
and the moon, 225, 226, 231 ; attri- 
butes of, 226 ; in religious observ- 
ances, 227; in marriage rite, 227; 
in ceremony over new-born child, 
227, 228; Vedas, 225, 226, 227; in 
ceremony for feeding child, 22S ; in 
ceremony at tonsure of child's head, 
22S ; consecrating new house, 229; 
honey made in house, 229 ; madhu- 
parka offering, 229, 230 ; rites upon 
sacred days, 230 ; cutting of beard, 
230 ; in golden age, 233 ; later an- 
cestral ceremonies, 233 ; respect 

shown for, 234 ; bestows beauty, 


Honey in India, collected as tax, 234; 
penalty for stealing, 234 ; honey- 
gatherers to-day, 365. 

Honey-meats, 202. 

Honeymoon, 345. 

Honey-mouth, 83. 

Honey-plants {see Poisonous plants), 
apple blossoms, 177; alder, 177 ; 
balm of Pontus, 182 ; blue thistle, 
178, 180 ; broom, 182 ; buckwheat, 
180, 181, 182, 387 ; catnip, 181 ; 
Cleome Integrifolia, 178 ; clover, 

177, 178, i79> 180, 366, 367, 377, 
389 ; cotton, 180; cucumbers, 184; 
dandelion, 177; honey-blossom, 358; 
honeysuckle, 178; horse-mint, 185; 
leeks, 181 ; linden or lime, 37, 152. 

178, 180; maple, 177; mangroves, 
180 ; nasturtiums, 178 ; onions, 181 ; 
orange, 180; palmettoes, 180; rape, 
387 ; raspberry, 36, 177 ; Rocky 
Mountain bee-plant, 178 ; rosemary, 
182; spider-plant, 178; viper's bu- 
gloss, 178, 180; white sage, 180; 
willow, 177, 388. 

Honey-sac, 27, 81, 82, 83, 140. 
Honey-stomach, 26. 
Hood, 345. 
Hooker, 365. 
Horace, 282, 291. 
Hottentots, 174. 

Huber, 44, 45, 48, 50, 53, 55, 67, 
118, 123, 134, 139, 162, 173, 362, 

Huckleberries, 36. 
Huish, 168, 169, 171, 386. 
Humble-bee, 165. {See Bumble-bee.) 
Hybla, 264, 292, 293, 294, 346, 374, 

383, 386. 
Hybljean bees, 65, 293, 294. 
Hyblasan honey, 293. 
Hydromel, 218, 219, 220. 
Hyginus, 313. 
Hymettus, 180, 182, 264, 291, 292^ 

294, 374, 375, 383. {See Mount 




Illyria, 282. 

Immendorf, 359. 

Immenhausen, 359. 

Immenstadt, 359. 

Imported bees, 128. 

Incubation, 138. 

India, 246, 352; bees imported, 128; 
bees of, 364, 365, 366, 367; lakes of 
honey, 166 ; literature of, 9 ; sugar, 
10; Hindu literature, 225-246. 

Indians of North America, 165, 168, 

Indra, 230, 

Indras, 336. 

Ingelow, Jean, 346. 

"Institutes of Vishnu," 2-54. 

Intoxicated bees, 194, 242. 

Intoxicating honey, 191, 282, 283. 

Intoxicating nectar, 194. 

"Iphigenia in Tauris," 277. 

Ireland, 321, 380. 

Iris, 28, 29. 

Irving, Washington, 378. 

Island of Malta, 180, 282. 

Isle of Bourbon, 187. 

Isle of France, 187. 

Italian bee, 57, 81, 103, 128, 388. 

Italian queen, 3S2. 

Italy, 128, 264-318. 

Jaffa, 387. 

Jaws, 18, 19, 20, 72, 'J'], 142, 154. 

Jean Paul, 341. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 378. 

Jenyns, 340. 

Jerseys, 191. 

Jerusalem, 128, 261. 

Jews, 85, 214, 320. 

John Honey-dew, 199. 

John the Baptist, 262. 

Josephus, 273, 274. 

Judges, Book of, 261. 

Juvenal, 88, 315. 

Kalidasa, 235, 237, 239, 240, ■2.\\. 
{See Appendix.) 

Kalmia, igi, 192, 193. 

Kama, 232, 234, 237, 238. {See Ap- 

Kamadeva, 243. 

Keats, 347. 

Killing bees, 155, 156, 285, 310, 311. 

Killing drones, 135. 

King-bee, 113, 114, 119, 122, 257. 

King-bird, 170. 

King Duff, T,^!,. 

King Lear, 89. 

Kings, Book of, 260. 

Knight, Andrew, 150. 

Knox, 174. 

Kohl's "Southern Russia," 93, 386. 

Koran, 187, 256. 

Krishna, 232. 

Kubla Khan, 199. 

L'Abb£ BELLA ROCCA, 91. 

La Beauce, 387. 

Labial palpi, 22. 

Lady's slipper, 31. 

Lakes of honey, 166. 

Lamarck, 362. 

Landois, 64. 

Langstroth, 49, 65, 118, 155, 157, 186, 

Language of bees, 63, 64, 65. 
Languedoc, 182. 
Larvje, 54, 55, 122, 123, 124, 173, 

Latreille, 137, 362. 
Laurel, 37, 191^ 192. 
"Legends of the Holy Rood," 214. 
Legs, 13, 70-80, 121. 
Lessing, 346. 

Ligula, 23. {See Tongwt.) 
Lime-tree, 37, 178. {See Linden.) 
Linden, 37, 152, 178, iSo. 
Lining bees, 168. 
Linnffius, 362. 
Lion and bee, 256. 
Lion and honey, 261. 
Lithuania, 180. 
Livy, 283. 
Lizard, 171. 

Locality of hive noted, 140. 
Longevity of bees, 127, 128, 136. 
Longfellow, 377. 
Lorenzo de Medici, 338. 
Loss of queen, 119. 




Loss of sting, loi, 102, 103. 

Lotus and bee, 236, 237, 239, 240, 244, 

Lubbock, see Sir Jolm L. 
Lucian's Comedies, 277. 
Lungs, 61. 
Lycophron, 2S5. 

Macedonia, 282. 

Madagascar, 187. 

Maddening honey, 189, 190. 

Madhava, 231, 232. 

Madhu, 225, 231. 

Madhuan, 231, 232. 

Madliuka flowers, 227. 

Madhuparka, 229, 230. 

Magic, 317, 318, 33i> 332, ^^t,, 334, 

Mahaffy, 374. 
Major de Hruschka, 186. 
Makris, see Brisa. 
Malta, 180, 282. 
Mandeville's "Fable of the Bees," 


Mandibles, 144. {See Jaws.) 

Mango and bee, 236, 237, 238. 

Marcellus, 85. 

Marchpane, 200. 

Marmalade, 199. 

Marnix, 323. 

Marriage and honey, 227, 251. {See 

Martial, 292, 293, 294, 295, 303, 307, 

Maspero, 248. 

Mating of drone, 133. 

Mating of queen, 127. 

Mating of worker, 154. {See Appen- 

Maundy Thursday, 320. 

Maxilte, 21. 

M. Cadet of Vaux, 86. 

M. de Hofer, 104. 

Mead, 12, 206-223, 277, 299, 338, 345, 

369, ll^- 

Mecca, 187. 

Medicine, bees as, 85; honey as, 84, 
85, 87, 191, 251, 252, 309, 369 ; pro- 
polis as, 150; wax as, 87, 88, 333; 

from bee poison, in, "2; from 

stings, 112, 168. 
Melia, 358. 
Melianthus, 358. 

Meliponas, habits of, 371, 372, m- 
Melissa, 267, 268, 269, 358. 
Melissae, 270. 
Melissa officinalis, 358. 
Melisse, 358. 
Melissomelos, 48. 
Melissurgis, 282. 
Melita, 282. 
Melitaia, 282. 
Melita, 358. 
Meliteria, 282. 
Melitonus, 282. 
Melittis, 358. 
Melitussa, 282. 
Mellonia, 280. 
Mellursus, 169. 
Melons, 1S4. 

Memory of bees, 31, 48, 49. 
Mentum, 23. 

Menzel, 93, 169, 187, 328. {See Ap- 
Merime, 336. 
Meritta, 337. 
"Metamorphoses," 266. 
Metatarsus, 71, 75, 79. 
Metheglin, 175, 212, 215, 217, 218, 
277. {See Mead.) 

Mexicans, 174. 

Mexico, 88, 373. 

Microscope, 40, 83. 

Milk-weed, 183. 

Milman's " Martyr of Antioch," 66. 

Milton, 70, 348. 

Mississippi, 378, 388. 

Mithra, 256, 257. 

Moccasin flower, 31. 

Moffett, 12, 47, 54, 58, 84, 85, 88, 90, 
104, 116, 138, 153, 160, 219, 220, 

Mohammedan legend, 274. 

Monarchy of hive, 113, 114. 

Monmouthshire, 344. 

Moon, honey and, 225, 226, 239, 345 ; 
bee and, 231, 232, 269. 

Moonlight work, 152, 178. 



Morley, Henry, 23^. 

Mormons, 351. 

Moschus, 297. 

Moses, 258. 

Mother-bee, 114, 115. 

Moths, 173. 

Motion of abdomen, 61 ; of sting, 96, 

97, 98, 99; of swarm, 163. 
Moulting, 124. 
Mountain laurel, 36, 37. 
Mount Carma, 190. 
Mount Carmel, 263. 
Mount Hymettus, 180, 264, 268. {See 

Mount Ida, 93, 264, 265, 267, 295. 
Mount Olympus, 222, 299. 
Mount Shasta, 177. 
Mouse, 151, 169. 
Mouth parts, 21. 
Movable frames, 157. 
M. Reaumeur, 151. 
Muir, 167, 177, 376, 379, 380, 3S2, 

383, 385- 
Mulsum, 222. 
Mungo Park, 93. 
Muscovite ambassador, t66. 
Muscovite hydromel, 220. 
Music and bees, 47, 163, 244. 

Napoleon's bees, 350, 351. 

Narbonne, 182. 

"Natural History of Selborne," 174, 

Nearchus, 10. 

Nectar, 239, 299 ; amount used to 
make honey, 152; amount yielded, 
178; forms bee poison, 100; from 
leaves and stems, 194 ; in water- 
tight cells, 143 ; no honey flavor, 
84 ; of the gods, 9, 222 ; poisonous, 
188, 189; rapidity of secretion, 178; 
renewed as removed, 177; trans- 
formed to honey. Si. 

Nectary, 28. 

Nerves and nervous system, 55. 

Nestor, 288, 290. 

New Year's Day, 320. 

New York, 181, 191, 192. 

New York City, 205. 

New Zealand, 184, 370. 
Niebuhr, 370. 
Nile, 252. 

Noise to make bees settle, 162. 
Noises liked by bees, 352 3:^. 
Number of bees eaten by one bird, 170. 
Number of bees in hive, 67. 
Number eaten by one toad, 171. 
Number of swarms cast in one season, 

Nuremberg, 202, 373, 374. 
Nurse-bees, 138, 147. 
Nymph, 138. {See Pupa.) 
Nymphs as bees, 26S ; bees, origin of, 

358, 359- 
Nymphs, bees as, 258. 

Oak, 265, 267, 295. 

Oatmeal, 148. 

Ocelli, 41. 

Odin, 211, 212. 

CEsophagus, 81. 

Oil of wintergreen, no. 

Olearius, 92. 

" Omaha Bee," 360. 

Orchids, 32, 33, 183. 

" Order of the Bee," 360. 

Origin of bees, 328 ; from Bacchus, 
276; from carcass, 116, 117, 271, 
272; from eggs, 115; from flowers 
and leaves, no, 116, 117. 

Origin of honey, 195. 

" Origin of Species," 150. 

Origin of wax, 86. 

Ovid, 88, 192, 266, 274. 

Ovipositor, 126. 

Oxford, 359. 

Packard, 61, 138. 

Pain-d'epice, 203. 

Palestine, 261, 262, 386. 

Pan, 279, 280. 

Parafifine, S7. 

Paralyzing effect of poison, 14. 

Pater Abraham a Santa, Clara, 17, 324. 

Pausanias, 270. 

Pears, 194. 

Pennsylvania, 191. 

Perry, Nora, 349. 



Persephone, 268. 

Persia, 180, 249, 256, 257. 

Perspiration, 139. 

Peter Martyr, 174. 

Peter of Capua, 324. 

Phiiladelphia, 157, 191. 

Phrygia, 219. 

Pigneron, 92. 

Pindar, 270, 291. 

Piping of queen, 125, 160. 

Plant louse, 198. 

Plato, 286, 297, 317, 318. 

Pleiades, 195. 

Pliny, 12, 312, 362; on adulterated 
honey, 187; on bad smells, 151; 
on bees as augurs, 284 ; on bees as 
prophets, 286, 287; on colored wax, 
318 ; on cornel, 192 ; on diseases 
of bees, 175; on drones, 129, 130; 
on honey as food, 204 ; on honey of 
Attica, 181 ; on honey poisonous to 
flies, 190 ; on horses stung, 108 ; on 
honeyed vinegar, 221 ; on honeyed 
wine, 222; on hydromel, 218; on 
incubation, 138; on king-bee, 113, 
122; on large comb, 188, 381; on 
loss of sting, 102 ; on maddening 
honey, 190; on origin of honey, 
195 ; on origin of wax, 86 ; on oxy- 
meli, 221 ; on poisonous honey, 189, 
193; on propolis, 151; on queen 
cells, 121; on robber-bees, 172; on 
smell, 51; on smoking bees, 155; 
on swarming, 160 ; on transporting 
bees, 385 ; reason why bears attack 
hives, 168; remedy for stings, loi ; 
transparent hives, 363 ; use of wax, 
8S; wax masks, 315. 

Plutarch, 252, 298, 310. 

Po, 386. 

Poison, antidote for, 109; effect on 
toad, 171; effects of, 100, 109; 
flavor of, 100; honey, odor of, 84; 
medicinal properties, 11 1 ; origin of, 
100; preserved in honey, 107 ; season 
of greatest virulence, 100 ; volatile, 
soluble, 107. 

Poison-ash, 192. 

Poison-bag, 14-101. 

Poison-gland, 96. 
Poison-sac, 94, 96, 97, loi, 102. 
Poisonous honey, 188, 189, 190. 
Poisonous honey plants, 189-194. 
Poisonous nectar, yj. 
Poland, 168, 332, ■},']i. 
Poles, ^iZI', 342. 

Pollen, as food for larvae, 123 ; 
changed into wax, 86 ; combs, 79 ; 
cross-fertilization, 182 ; digested, 
84; first spring work, 148; forms 
bee poison, 100 ; gathering-hairs 
for, T] ; method of gathering, 78, 
148 ; pollen baskets, "]"], 78, 120 ; 
substitutes for, 148 ; unloading pol- 
len, 148; wild bees' pollen, 15; wild 
rose, •i,'] ; willow, 148. 
PoUio Romilius, 222, 299. 
Pomerania, 354. 
Pontus, 182, 189, 190, 282, 
Pope Urban VIII., 323. 
Porphyry, 268, 269, 270, 282. 
Potrimpos, 332, 333. 
Prayers to bee, 327, 328, 336, 337, 

Prescriptions of honey, 85, 252. 
Preserving power of honey, 86 ; dead 

bodies, 252, 253, 344 ; fruits, 204. 
Priapus, 279. 
Proboscis, 19-27, 76, 142. {See 

Propohs, 147, 149, 150, 151, 173. 
Proserpine, 268. 
Proteus, 271. 
Proverbs, 259. 
Psalms, 258, 259. 
Pul villa, 73. 
Punjab, 368. 
Pupa, 125. 
Puranas, 232. 

Purity in connection with bees, 355. 
Pyrenees, 341. 

QUARLES, 347. 

Queen, 1 13-129; deprived of antennae, 
44) 45 ; excrement of, 152; in centre 
of swarm, 163; leads off swarm, 159; 
never stings, 140; no pollen basket, 
78 ; note of queen, 48 ; not allowed 


to kill queens, 159; recognized by 
antennae, 53; smothered, 140; sac- 
rificed, 136. 

Queen Bombus, 33, 34, 36. 

Queen-cells, 121, 122, 123, 125, 145. 

Queen Elizabetli's mead, 215. 

Queen-larva, 124. 

Quintilian, 309. 

Race odor, 84. 

Rameses III., 251. 

Rape-honey, 387. 

Ray nor, George, 340, 341. 

Reasoning power of bees, 30, 31, 49, 50, 

R^aumeur, 362. 

Recipes for honey-cakes, 203, 204 ; 
for mead, 215-221; for preserves, 
199-202 ; for vinegar, 204 ; by Athe- 
naeus, 300-307. 

Remedy, for stings, 90, 91 ; when at- 
tacked by bees, 109. 

Removal of queen, 119. 

Respiration, 61, 62, 139. 

Revelation, 262. 

Rhea, 268. 

Rheumatism cured, iii. 

Rhode Island, 380. 

Rhododendron, poisonous honey, 188, 
190,191,192,193. (.S^^ Appendix,) 

Rhus Vernix, 192. 

Rig-Veda, 226, 227. 

Ripening of honey, 81. 

Robber-bees, 150, 172, 354. 

Robbing bees, 148, 155, 156. 

Rock-dwelling bees, 93, 261, 365. 

Rogers, 66, 347. 

Romans, 190, 206. 

Rome, 373. 

Roscher, 299. 

Rose as wound of Saviour, 322. 

Rosetta Stone, 247. 

Rosemary honey, 182. 

Roses, 37, 201. 

Root, 49, 144. 

Royal jelly, 122, 123, 124. 

Runaway bees, 163, 164, 165. 

Rune calendar, 207. 

Russia, 168, 187, 373. 


Russians, 337. 
Rye flour, 148. 


Saadi, 256. 

Sacred ash, 196, 211. (See Ygdrasil.) 

Saga, 12, 212. 

Sage, 180, 181, 374, 388. 

Saint Agnes, 324. 

Saint Albericus, 321. 

Saint Ambrose, 320, 324. 

Saint Basil, 319. 

Saint Bonizella, 327. 

Saint David, 321. 

Saint Dominicus, 320. 

Saint Gobinate, 321. 

Saint Isidor, 320. 

Saint Jerome, 319. 

Saint Medard, 322. 

Saint Modomoc, 321. 

Saint Serenicus, 321. 

Saliva, in transforming nectar, 81 ; of 
stars, 195; to moisten wax, 144; 
to mould wax, 87. 

Sakuntala, 235, 236, 237. 

Samadeva, 245. 

Samson, 261. 

Saturn, 282, 315. 

Scandinavia, 211. 

Schirach, 123, 173. 

Scotland, 193, 333, 387. 

Sealing-wax, 88, 89. 

Self-fertilization, 182. 

Seneca, 103, 126. 

Sentinel bees, 139, 150, 169, 174. 

Servian legend, 335. 

Sesser, 92. 

Shakespeare, 345; " Cymbeline," 89; 
"Henry IV.," yo, 117, 156, 34=;; 
"Henry V.," 114; "Henry VI.," 
88; "King Lear," 8q ; "Love's 
Labor's Lost," 215; " Merry Wives 
of Windsor," 215; " Troilus and 
Cressida," 66 ; killing of bees, 156; 
mead, 215 ; monarchy of hive, 114; 
origin of bees, 117; sealing-wax, 
88, 89 ; singing of bumble-bee, 66 
thighs, 70. 

Shasta, 177. 

Shedding skin, 124. 



Shelemon, 320. 

Shirach, 123, 173. 

Siberia, 1S7. 

Sibyl of Cumse, 27S, 279. 

Sicily, 282, 293, 313, 374. 

Silenus, 275. 

Silesians, 337. 

Silk glands, 124. 

Sirius, 195. 

Sir John Lubbock, 42, 46, 51, 139. 

Skin, of larva, 124; eaten by moths, 


Smell hollows, 46, 75. 

Smell sense, 31, 48, 49, 50. 

Smoke, as now used, 158 ; to kill bees, 
155. 156, 285, 310, 311. 

Smoker, 158, 313. 

Snail, 151. 

Solomon, 127. 

Solon's Laws, 310. 

Sophocles, 270, 287, 306. 

Sorcery, 317, 318. {See Magic.) 

Sour-wood, 179. 

South America, 88, 169, 178, 370, 371. 

Spain, 373, 386. 

Spartans, 252. 

Spartium Nubigerum, 182. 

Speech of bees, 52. 

Speed of wing vibrations, 60, 62. {See 

Spencer, 345. 

Spiracles, 6t, 63, 74. 

Spix's "Travels," 371. 

Spring flight, 152. 

Spur, 77. 

Stahala, 65. 

Stealing honey, 49, 50. 

Sting, 14, 90-112, 125, 126, 132, 151. 

Stinging, manner of, 105 ; reason for, 
91; to avenge hurt bee, 154; to 
prevent, 90, no; what causes, no. 
Stingless bees, 371, 372. 
Stings, cure for dull eyesight, 168 ; 
effect upon toads, 171 ; extracted by 
propolis, 151; fatal effects of, 107; 
prevention, 150; remedy for, 90, 
loi, 109; supplied for medicine, 
Strabo, 189, 257, 267, 293. 

Strained honey, 186, 187. 

Strainer for pollen, S3. 

Straw hives, 169. 

Substitute for wax, 87. 

Sucking stomach, 27. 

Sugar, 203; cane sugar, 10, 81, 82, 
194; grape sugar, 81, 82; history of 
sugar, 10, II ; made from honey, 85, 
86 ; of lead, 11. 

Sulphur for killing bees, 155, 156,285, 

3101 3"- 

Sultan of Turkey, 180. 

Sun, 225, 226, 249, 270; symbolized 
by bee, 231, 232. 

Supers, 147. 

Superstitions, about bees, 152, 339, 
340, 341, 342, 343, 344; about wax, 
317, 318, 329, 330, 331, 332, 333. 

Surplus honey, 152, 185. 

" Sutras," 227, 228. 

Swallow, 170. 

Swammerdam, 159, 362. 

Swarm, 159-176 ; leaving of, 159, 160, 
162, 163; number cast, 159, 160; 
when does not sting, 160, 161 ; set- 
tled on girl, 161 ; settled in boy's 
hat, 165 ; noises to prevent leaving, 
162 ; runaway, 162-165 ; bee trees, 
165, 166, 16S; enemies, 168-174; 
robbing, 172, 173; fights, 172, 173; 
wax moth, 173 ; when queen is lost, 
175; diseases, 176; stung Thorley's 
friend, 108; to make settle, 353, 

Swarming, what it is, 125. 

Swarming song, 48. 

Sweat of heavens, 195. 

Sweetmeats, 202, 203. 

Syrian bees, 263, 389. 

Tacitus, 315. 
Talmud, 258. 
Teasel, 179. 

" Tegner's Frithiof's Saga," 212, 213. 
Telling the bees, 339, 340, 341, 342. 
Temperature, during wax making, 
140, 142 ; of hive, 162; of insect, 139. 
Tennyson, 346, 348. 
Tertullian, 319. 




Texan Bee Journal, 128. 

Texas, 185, 359. 

Thebes, 375. 

Theocritus, 279, 2S0, 295, 296, 297, 

Theophrastus, 10. 
Thessaly, 26S, 282, 386. 
Thighs, 70, 78, 115, 150, 156. 
Thomas of Cantiprat, 324. 
Thomson, 17, 156. 
Thorax, 13, 15, iS, 57, 60, 77. 
Thorley, 107, 155, 161, 171, 173, 175, 

197, 217. 
Thyme, 293, 374, 3S7. 
Tibia, 71, 75, 79. 
Tibullus' "Elegies," 279. 
Titian, 324. 
Titmouse, 169. 
Toads, 170, 171. 
Toadstone, 354. 
Toes, 71-73, 140. 
Toilet of bees, 153. 
Toilet brushes, 76. 
Tomtit, 169. 

Tongue, 17-34, 154, 176. 
Touch organs, 45. 
Tracheae, 63. 

Transmigration of souls, 234, 269. 
Transportation of queens, 128. 
Trigona, 372, 373. 
" Tryon Bee," 360. 
Tulip-tree, 179. 
Tulips, 192. 
Turkey, 91, 180. 
Turpentine, 150. 

Unfertilized eggs, 122, 154. 
United States, 341, 374; poisonous 

honey-plants, 192; bee-trees, 165; 

value of apiarian products, 384. 
Urquhart's " Spirit of the Orient," 

Uses of honey, 85, 86. 
Uses of sting, 90-94. 
Usquebach, 222. 

Valhalla, 211, 212, 213. 
Value of apiarian products in the 
United States, 384. 

Varnish, 149, 150. {See Propolis.) 

Varro, 155,225, 313, 315. 

Vedas, 225, 226, 227. 

Vedic poets, 9. 

Ventilation of hive, 67, 68, 6g. 

Venus, 2S1. 

Vergiliae, 195. 

Vetches, 194. 

Vibration of bee's wing, 60, 62. {See 

Vinegar and honey, 221. 

Vinegar, made from honey, 204. 

Violets, 201, 202. 

Viper's bugloss, 178, iSo. {See Blue 

Virgil, 37, 267, 269, 279, 293, 311, 313; 
Aristseus' bees, 271,272; battle of 
bees, 126 ; bees as weather prophets, 
352; coming of jEneas, 2S5 ; on 
drone, 129 ; on immortality of bee, 
272; on love for queen, 119; on 
origin of bees, 116; on sacrificial 
bull, 249; on stinging, 103; on voice 
of bees, 65 ; the Golden Age, 266 ; 
to retain swarm, 162 ; jEneid, 279, 
28 5, 311; Bucolics, 65, 266, 267, 293; 
Georgic I., 269; Georgic IV., 103, 
116, 119, 126, 249, 271, 272, 291, 

Virgin Mary, 324, 327. 
Vishnu, 231. 

Vocal mechanism, 63, 64. 
Voices of bees, 63, 64. 
Volition of insects, 38. 

Wales, 181, 217, 218. 

Wallachian legend, 335. 

Waltersdorf's hymn, 323. 

Wasps, 14, 194. 

Waste, ejection of, 84, 151, 152. 

Water, 149, 179. 

Watts, 347. 

Wax, 12,70,251,270,314; altar, 325; 
American wax, 88 ; amount of honey 
usedfor, 87, 141; ancient uses, 318; 
artificial, S,y; as a cure, 2:y, 88, 333 ; 
black, ?,?., 187, 1S8, 318, 373, 3813 
candles, 88, 319, 325, 370, 373; caps 
on cells, 124 ; colored, 1S8, 318, 373; 



cement, 150; consistency of, 142; 
destroyed by moths, 173; flowers 
and fruit, 314, 315; for embalming, 
253, 254; for shepherd's pipe, 295; 
for superstitious uses, 330, 331, 332, 
333> 339; images, 315, 316, 317, 
329) 333; jaws, 79, 87; masks, 315; 
of Apis Dorsata, 366 ; origin of, 86 ; 
pockets, 86, Sy, 141; production, 
140, 141; scales, 141, 142; tablets, 
88; tribute to Romans, 190; uses 
of, Sy, 88 ; violet, 373 ; wax-moth, 
I73i 174; wreaths, 315. 

West Chester, 192. 

West Indies, 370. 

Westphalia, 342. 

White man's fly, 165, 250, 37S. 

White's "Natural History of Sel- 
borne," 174, 197. 

Whittier, 339. 

Wild bees, 165, 169. 

Wildman, 104, 185, 356, 357. 

Wild roses, 37. 

Wilkes's Club, 194. 

Willow honey, 148, 177. 

Wing music, 62 ; of drones, 136. 

Wings, 13, 44, 57-69, 152, 153; of 

drones, 132; of queen, 118, 160. 
Wisdom of bee, 54. 
Woodpecker, 170. 
Work, bees' love for, 137; done by 

young bees, 138; by moonlight, 152, 

Worker, 137-158; cells of, 121,214; 

deprived of antennse, 45 ; honey-sac, 

81,82,83; larva of , 124; silk glands, 

124; structure, 114; wax pockets, 

86, S7. 
Worms, 122. (See Larvae.) 

Xenophon, 54, iSS, 189, 287. 

Yellow jessamine, 193. 
Yew honey, 192. 
Ygdrasil, 196, 211. 
Young, Brigham, 351. 

Zeus, 93, 264, 265, 266, 267, 275. 


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